Decision delayed on Cruden Farm homes plan


A DECISION to push ahead with a residential subdivision in part of Langwarrin’s Cruden Farm has been delayed until later in the year.

A planning application due to be discussed by Frankston councillors at August’s public council meeting on Monday 14 August was withdrawn by the trustees of the former homestead of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.

Frankston Council was set to deliberate on the contentious proposal to rezone parcels of land within the 54-hectare estate for residential development.

State Labor Planning Minister Richard Wynne would have to agree to move the Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate the building of more than 100 homes on about 15 hectares of land south of Cranbourne Rd and east of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway.

The idyllic 54-hectare estate was Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s home for eight decades before her death in 2012 at the age of 103.

Dame Elisabeth was the mother of News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch.

The estate was transferred into the name of Cruden Custodian Limited in 2013 and its trustees include several grandchildren of Dame Elisabeth but not the media mogul himself.

Its gardens are sometimes open to the public and the estate hosts community and charity events at the behest of Dame Elisabeth who was a renowned philanthropist.

A report by consultancy firm Urbis, commissioned by the Cruden Farm trustees, has been obtained under freedom of information from Frankston Council by the Defenders of the South East Green Wedge.

The group is opposed to the carve up of green wedge land for residential development.

The Urbis report proposes opening up Cruden Farm as a “tourism gateway” for the Mornington Peninsula and mentions the possibility of “third party private sector operators” using part of the grounds for “commercial uses” such as a cafe or art gallery while the rest of the property is operated on a “not for profit” basis.

The report also suggests schools could visit Cruden Farm for horticulture education purposes.

The Urbis report reveals: “Discussions with Frankston City Council have identified the potential for the Council’s indigenous plant nursery to be relocated to Cruden Farm, offering further learning opportunities in indigenous planting, bushland regeneration, and plant propagation.” Council’s indigenous nursery is currently located at McCulloch Avenue in Seaford.

Defenders spokesman Barry Ross said the group is “not opposed to a lot of things suggested” but there is concern that “the gracious feel of Cruden Farm could be jeopardised”.

“We think that the green wedge is sacred and shouldn’t be touched. There is a commitment to a permanent urban growth boundary,” Mr Ross said.

“If the government approves this we’ll have a whole lot of other people on the boundary wanting their land rezoned as well. It will open up the floodgates.”

It is understood the trustees withdrew the planning application for consideration at August’s council meeting to include more detail in the proposal.

Mr Ross noted the Urbis report did not include any financial figures to justify the trustees’ assertions that proceeds from the sale of the land for homes construction are needed to keep the grounds of Dame Elisabeth’s former homestead open to the public for generations to come.

“It doesn’t substantiate it from a financial point of view. We don’t know what kind of income they’re getting in now, we don’t know what their expenses are.”

The planning application may now be submitted to council in November.

First published in the Mornington News – 15 August 2017


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