Pru Sanderson, in her groundbreaking ‘City of Kew Urban Conservation Study : Volume 2 - Development History’ (1988), summarised the periods of urban development and subdivisions of land in Kew. The periods that she identified included 1845-1880, 1880-1893, 1893-1921, 1921-1933, 1933-1943, and Post-War Development. These periods were selected as they represented periods of rapid growth or decline in urban development. An obvious starting point for Sanderson’s groupings involved population growth and the associated economic cycles. These cycles also highlighted urban expansion onto land that was predominantly rural, although in other cases it represented the decline and breakup of large estates. A number of the plans in the Kew Historical Society’s collection can also be found in other collections, such as those of the State Library of Victoria and the Boroondara Library Service. A number are however unique to the collection.
Subdivision plans are historically important documents used as evidence of the growth of suburbs in Australia. They frequently provide information about when the land was sold on which a built structure was subsequently constructed as well as evidence relating to surveyors and real estate and financial agents. The numerous subdivision plans in the Kew Historical Society's collection represent working documents, ranging from the initial sketches made in planning a subdivision to printed plans on which auctioneers or agents listed the prices for which individual lots were sold. In a number of cases, the reverse of a subdivision plan in the collection includes a photograph of a house that was also for sale by the agent. These photographs provide significant heritage information relating house design and decoration, fencing and household gardens.
In the subdivision of part of Crown Portion 82, bordered by John and Sackville Streets and Cotham and Burke Roads, over 100 lots were offered for sale. In addition to the designated lots, a number of key locations are also identified. These include the Genazzano Convent to the north of Cotham Road, the Reservoir, St Hilary’s and the land holding of Colonel Parnell on the corner of John Street and Cotham Road. On the Plan, No. 5064, is the handwritten name ‘St. Hellier’s Estate’. St. Helliers, the home of the Dumaresq family is shown beside St. Hilary’s.