After a heritage-listed Canterbury house was gutted in an arson attack, Councillors have voted to take the strongest action possible to protect the home’s remains and prevent illegal destruction of heritage-listed property in Boroondara.

The 118-year-old Mangarra Road house, called Shenley Croft, was set alight in December 2023. It is included in Boroondara’s Heritage Overlay, which intends to protect it from inappropriate development and demolition. The property’s Statement of Significance described it as a ‘fine and substantially intact example of a large timber Edwardian residence in the Queen Anne style’.

For decades it was home to the James family. Dance teacher Merle James was well known for teaching hundreds of children and adults to dance in her studio at the home. The property was sold in November 2020 and has remained vacant.

Since the arson attack, Council has been exploring all possible avenues to ensure what remains of the property is protected and push for the reconstruction of the heritage house.

A formal submission has been made to the Minister for Planning, asking the Victorian Government to exercise its powers to amend the Boroondara Planning Scheme to apply a Specific Controls Overlay (SCO) to the property. The SCO will prevent development except for the reconstruction of the heritage house.

If enacted by the Minister, this will be a first in Victoria, setting a clear mandate for heritage-listed buildings to be reconstructed where they've been unlawfully demolished.

Protecting the distinct character of our neighbourhood streets is a top priority for Council.

The SCO incorporated document was presented to Councillors at an Urban Planning Delegated Committee (UPDC) meeting on Monday 19 February 2024. You can read the council report on the 19 February UPDC meeting page.