Save Kaydon Court Flats, 1 Cooloongatta Road, Middle Camberwell
Kaydon Court Flats were built between 1955-66 and were designed by well known and highly regarded Architects MacKay & Potter, (who also designed Hosies Hotel at 1 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne), and the foyer of the Olympic Swimming Pool in Richmond.
Kaydon Court is set in a parkland environment with trees and gardens for all to enjoy and where several of the residents have lived a quiet life, close to shops and transport for over 10 years, some more than 30 years. The original owner, Stanley Gilmour was not looking to make a fast profit and leave. He and his wife lived on the site for close to fifty years, until the early 2000s, tended the gardens and built a community, providing an affordable rental option in Middle Camberwell.
However, in 2019 the land was purchased by a developer and, within a short time, a planning application was made to demolish all the buildings and gardens, including various significant trees and effectively put people out of their homes, and replace them with two 3 storey buildings plus three double storey townhouses – with a double basement car park, providing parking for 94 cars in a residential (not a main) street.
The proposal failed to recognise that Kaydon Court Flats are an important part of the Camberwell story – designed pre Strata Titles Act, post WW2, when people were looking for affordable living with good access to amenities. The land had a series of easements as it was formed from a green stretch of land which formed Back Creek and there were several easements and drainage issues that needed to be addressed, which enabled the spacious gardens, trees and flowers and provided a sense of space and peace for all. There is still a flood plain there, close to where the double basement garage was proposed.
This application has now been withdrawn pending the outcome of the Heritage Overlay application and another related matter in the Supreme Court. However, the new owner/developer has applied for a demolition permit!
The local Residents’ Group, Concerned Residents for 1 Cooloongatta Rd, were compelled to engage a Heritage Expert to confirm thoughts that this was a significant chapter of Camberwell’s history. The report responded that indeed it was significant, and that part should be saved. Boroondara Council in response to this, engaged their own Heritage Expert and their report not only confirmed what we thought but went much further, saying the entire site should be saved. See the report for details https://tinyurl.com/mrj75ux8
On 16 August 16 2021, Boroondara Councillors voted unanimously to support the Heritage Overlay Process and save the remarkable property. We are urgently waiting on the Honourable Richard Wynne, Minister for Planning, to grant Boroondara the authority to progress the Heritage Overlay process to exhibition stage. Time is ticking and we urgently need a response from the Department.
Anne Kemp, for Concerned Residents 1 Cooloongatta Road Camberwell
This article was first published in Eastsider News Edition 8, October 2021