By Danielle Kutchel
Beside an overgrown fig tree, surrounded on three sides by modern modes of living, a testament to Casey’s rich heritage lies crumbling.
The homestead at Ercildoune Court, formerly Hayton Park, was built in 1888 and is associated with the Hall family, who ran a dairy farm in Cranbourne’s early agricultural days.
Now though, the heritage-listed homestead lies derelict in the middle of the Alarah estate in Cranbourne West.
According to the Heritage Council Victoria’s database, the homestead is “of local historic and aesthetic significance to the City of Casey” as a surviving example of Cranbourne’s dairy industry in the late nineteenth century.
The property is also considered “a superior and well-preserved example of a Victorian Italianate villa in a rural setting.”
That preservation could be called into question, as the house is currently dilapidated, with broken windows and sagging weatherboards in some places.
The ground around the house is littered with shattered glass.
Star News Group understands that originally, Wolfdene, the developer of the estate, had proposed to restore the property and develop its surrounds into a communal area, but then handed the property back to the council over three years ago.
A salesperson at the estate was unaware of any plans for the homestead.
When Star News Group visited the site and spoke to residents, many of them indicated they had no idea of the property’s existence or significance.
Some however expressed concern over the state of the property.
Julie said she was worried about the property getting damaged and suggested opening it to the public to provide information about the history of the area.
Another resident, Jenny, moved into the area in 2015 and said she was initially told the homestead would be “tumbled” and turned into a BBQ area and a small dog park.
She said she would prefer to see the homestead get used, rather than being left derelict.
She added that when she moved in, the documents provided by Wolfdene said nothing about their plans for the homestead.
Nearby, Emily said she would hate to see the homestead go, as it was popular with residents who use the area for recreation, picnics and for their dogs to play in.
It’s currently not clear what the City of Casey’s plans are for the site, however in a statement, Keri New, manager of city and asset planning for the City of Casey said they were “committed to restoring the Ercildoune Court Homestead and Reserve, through balancing the use and activation of the space with its heritage protection.”
Last August, the City of Casey held a community information session to gather feedback on how to revitalise the homestead site, which was attended by approximately 30 people.
Around 60 people have so far participated in community engagement processes to determine what to do with the site.
Some of the feedback offered during the consultation has included:
• Preserving green space
• Reflecting the heritage through provision of historical information related to the culture and heritage of the site
• Providing places for connection like picnic spaces and seating
• Providing opportunities for learning such as a community garden.
Other residents have expressed an interest in working with Casey Council in working bees or to manage the homestead site.
A follow-up consultation was planned for the end of March for residents to view and comment on a concept plan for the site which was drawn up based on feedback by the community.
It is expected that the final masterplan for the old homestead will be developed after this round of feedback.
“The landscaping concepts have been designed based on feedback provided by the community, and funds have already been allocated to complete those works, pending another round of community consultation,” Ms New said.
“The intention is to complete the restoration works to the homestead when funds become available through Council’s capital works program or through government grants. This project is currently a budget submission.
“Council’s Heritage and Planning Officers will ensure all works completed within the site adhere to all heritage overlays currently in place and, as part of the masterplan, there is a plan to install information about the site and its significance, including historical information related to the culture and heritage.”