782 Heidelberg-Kinglake Road, Hurstbridge

Application 334/2021/02P (782 Heidelberg-Kinglake Rd. Hurstbridge)

Childcare centre and alteration to road access



Few would deny that Hurstbridge township has its own distinctive ‘rural village’ atmosphere and strong ‘sense of place’ which is increasingly rare in Melbourne’s remorselessly expanding outer suburbs.

The value held for their town’s character by local residents led to the ‘Hurstbridge Township Strategy’ (2002). This expressed the community’s wishes for new development to ‘have regard to the existing streetscape and neighbourhood character’ and called for the introduction of design guidelines for new development along Main Road (Exec summary, pages ii, iii).

Subsequently, the ‘Hurstbridge Design Guidelines’ (2013, page 9) called for “building designs that are sympathetic to nearby heritage developments within the (Main Road) corridor”, and that the demolition of buildings that contribute to the heritage value of the corridor be avoided (page 9).

One such building which would be lost if Application 334/2021/02P succeeds, is the single storey cottage at No. 782 with its traditional front verandah set behind trees. Its simple traditional design complementing the heritage station master’s house directly opposite, makes it a constituent part of the character of Hurstbridge.

Nillumbik’s Municipal Planning Strategy for the built environment (02.03-5, P Scheme) states: ‘Council seeks to: protect and enhance township streetscapes and promote design outcomes that retain the historical and individual characteristics of each area while enhancing its attractiveness, distinctiveness, safety and accessibility.’

Under the Township Zone (32.05, Nillumbik P Scheme) the purpose and decision guidelines for a development on this site include ‘the protection and enhancement of the character of the town and surrounding area.’ The retention of vegetation, the design, height, set-backs and appearance of proposed buildings; the scale and intensity of use, the safety, efficiency and amenity effects of traffic, must also all be considered.

Under the Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO2)  there is an emphasis on the sensitive siting of new buildings to retain vegetation, avoid prominence and minimise excavation so development is not detrimental to the natural environment, landform and character of the area.

The Design and Development Overlay (DDO5) which directly abuts the subject property on its Main Road frontage seeks to retain the ‘rural feel’ of the Main Road corridor including trees and the low-scale character of the town.

The proposed 68 place child-care centre with an under-croft carpark for 15 cars will have significant impacts inconsistent with the above planning provisions.

Plans show that most of the quarter acre site will be levelled with an excavation reaching a depth of 3.9 meters at the south-eastern corner.

The building footprint takes up half of the site with a seven-metre set-back from the front boundary. Its width takes up 84% of the site frontage at Main Rd. At its highest point the roof ridge is 8.7 metres above road level. Even with replacement plantings at the front, this double storey development will remain prominent in the streetscape at this key township entrance.

Sited close to the roundabout which services the busy railway station and carpark, traffic movement and safety will be strained both during construction, with large quantities of earth needing to be trucked away, and during normal operation.

By way of contrast, there are no similar safety, traffic or planning conflicts affecting the three existing childcare facilities in Greysharps Road, however, the imminent closure of one of them after 46 years of operation is dismaying. The threat to the much-loved Hurstbridge Preschool at the same time as council is about to consider Application 334/2021/02P presents a planning conundrum which needs urgent resolution.

Friends of Nillumbik Inc supports the efficient and appropriate provision of childcare services for Hurstbridge and if more capacity is needed, surely there is potential for these suitably designed three Greysharps Road facilities to increase their intake without the need for the large-scale Main Road proposal?

We support Nillumbik’s Planning Scheme and the protection of Hurstbridge’s small-scale ‘rural-village’ character. We believe Application 334/2021/02P is out of character with the Hurstbridge township.

Are extra childcare places so badly needed in Hurstbridge that a building of this size and prominence is necessary at the entrance to the town?



This submission should not be construed as an objection to the provision of childcare to the Hurstbridge community. Indeed we are dismayed by the imminent closure of the Hurstbridge Preschool, which has been operating for 46 years as a local community kindergarten. This poor decision has stripped Hurstbridge parents of a much loved and needed local early years learning institution.

We do, however, argue that there is a need to adopt an appropriate design fitting the character of the township for any new childcare facility while maintaining all existing facilities to meet the total childcare needs of the community.