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Community history goes under the hammer

THE FORMER South Warrandyte Fire Station in Brumbys Road, South Warrandyte, has been sold at auction.
The 756m² property was vacated in 2016 by the brigade upon the construction of their new premises in Falconer Road.
The site was initially put up for sale in March; however, following community outcry and accusations by Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, that due process had not been followed, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) withdrew the property for sale so it could be offered to State Government agencies and local council as part of “first right of refusal” provisions.
A spokesperson for CFA said the property was put up to Council for “first right of refusal” in 2016 and therefore
were not obliged to offer it a second time.
However, after Mr Smith raised the issue in Parliament, they offered it a seond time.
Community groups such as Warrandyte Scouts, Warrandyte Men’s Shed and Warrandyte Neighbourhood House all showed interest in operating out of the premises — but it appears the highly restrictive overlays would have prevented these uses.
Mayor of Manningham, Cr Michelle Kleinert, told the Diary Council was eventually offered the property but turned it down.
“Even if Council was gifted the property, we would not have accepted it as there was no scope in the planning overlays to allow community use,” she said.
The property was listed as RCZ3, with an Environmental Significance Overlay, Bushfire Management Overlay, and a Heritage Overlay.
Potential uses for the property were listed as a dwelling, bed and breakfast, market, restaurant, farm, winery, or rural store, with the estate agent, Jellis Craig highlighting the potential restaurant use as “STCA” in their sales material.
The site was acquired in the 1960s by the brigade, and the current building was constructed by the community with community funds in the 1980s.
The station was made redundant when the CFA provided the brigade with a $6 million upgraded station in Falconer Road.
The CFA volunteers were joined by career staff, who later became Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV).
Mr Smith said he was disappointed the State Government did not try to keep the property in community hands.
He said he thought Council should have been given more opportunity to consider the options for the site.
“When it first got put on the market, clearly the proper process hadn’t been followed and there was limited time in the following weeks in the lead up to today’s sale.
“I think there should have been more opportunity for Council to consult with the community and come up with some options about what would be allowed.
“It is a community asset that I think should have remained in community hands; the government has been completely recalcitrant in not allowing the community to use it for so long.
“The community has asked on many occasions that it be used for community use, it is just incredibly disappointing that we have got to a
situation where a community built asset, that is loved by the residents and everyone that is associated with South Warrandyte CFA for so many years has moved into private hands.”
The CFA spokesperson said he understands the community connection to the site.
“In even the most modest of these sheds, they contain the commitments made by the members to the brigades — so much community history is bound up in these buildings.”
Former Captain of South Warrandyte CFA, Greg Kennedy, along with other former and present members of the brigade, attended the auction to say farewell to their old shed.
“Very disappointed that Manningham Council didn’t react quickly and promptly in securing a great asset for the community; it is now lost and gone,” he said.
The building was eventually sold to a car enthusiast who bought the property
for $980,000 (plus GST) to convert into a dwelling.
A friend of the purchaser told the Diary he particularly liked the property because of the large garage where he could house his many cars.