Caulfield Park conservatory

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — I rise today to raise a matter with the Minister for Environment and Climate Change in regard to the Caulfield Park conservatory. The action I seek is for the minister to conditionally approve the relocation of the historic conservatory to the Rippon Lea estate, subject to the vacant space at Caulfield Park being appropriately utilised as a feature within the park. The conservatory was in fact originally located at Rippon Lea as a greenhouse, but the original burnt down in the 1920s. There has been a great level of community concern and a big local campaign to save the conservatory.

Unfortunately the structure has become run down over the years, and the Glen Eira City Council surveyed residents to explore options of either developing, demolishing or refurbishing the site known as the conservatory. One of the proposals included a cafe, which was completely rejected by the community. The building is in worse shape than originally thought, and even though the most preferred option from the community consultation was to refurbish the conservatory, the Glen Eira council has voted to demolish it.

I am told the cost of refurbishing the conservatory is estimated to be in excess of $250 000, and council has only set aside $100 000 to do the work. As a result, due to the overwhelming community concern and the historical nature of the conservatory, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) has offered to relocate the structure back to the Rippon Lea estate. I have been informed that the council supports this new approach and is willing to fund the relocation of the conservatory. I believe this is a good option, as we will still retain the conservatory in the area and in fact return it to its original home. This also opens up the possibility of upgrading the space and better utilising it for local residents, who have been advocating for more seating for the elderly and families in Caulfield Park.

I would be prepared to organise a meeting, under the minister’s direction, with council and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries to explore these possibilities and opportunities. It is on these grounds that I ask that the minister approve the relocation of the historic conservatory to the Rippon Lea estate, subject to discussion with the council, and to appropriately upgrade the vacant land and keep it as a unique feature within the park.

Caulfield Park is a great park. As I have said on many occasions, it is the jewel in the crown of our open space in Caulfield, and we are looking at relocating the depot to Booran Reserve and to be able to look at this particular conservatory as one of the key projects. It is certainly a historic building. It has historic significance, as I said, back to the 1920s. To take that building back to its original home at Rippon Lea gardens would be a great opportunity for all, and I ask the minister to consider this matter.

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