Historical information

Produced by Contour Consultants Australia Pty Ltd on behalf of Dallas Price Homes Pty Ltd as part of the planning process for redevelopment of the former Eltham Shire Office site at 895 Main Road.

In 1963 the Shire of Eltham purchased the Shillinglaw property of approximately 2 acres in Main Road, Eltham for the widening of Main Road and as a site for new Council offices. This land, which contained the Shillinglaw Cottage (c1878-80), was the remaining section of the Shillinglaw family holding that originally comprised 30 acres, being Lot 90 of Holloway's 1851 subdivision.

Eltham Council intended to demolish this cottage, but through extensive community action it was saved, funds were raised, and it was relocated to the current site adjacent to the Eltham Library.

The new Eltham Shire Offices opened in 1965 were designed to ensure retention of the three Italian Cypress trees that were located outside the Shillinglaw Cottage. In 1971 the building was extended at the southern end to provide additional space, including for the Eltham Library and Council's Engineering Department. Renovations were undertaken to the offices during 1987.

The Victorian State Government commenced to restructure local government in 1994, which resulted in the establishment of the Shire of Nillumbik and the cessation of the Shire of Eltham. This new Nillumbik Shire Council was headed by government appointed commissioners, who decided in 1995 to put the former Eltham Shire offices on the market. Eventually in June 1996 the property was sold for $1.1 million and the building was subsequently demolished.

A planning application for the site was then submitted to Nillumbik Shire Council in September 1996 for construction of a 24-hour service station, convenience store, cafe/takeaway food premises, a retail facility and community facility. There were many objections to this proposed development and in controversial circumstances a planning permit was granted by the Nillumbik Shire Council commissioners.

After protracted actions involving a planning panel and a planning advisory committee, established by the Minister for Local Government, the proposal was eventually rejected as not satisfying the requirements of the planning scheme. In December 1997 the purchaser withdrew from the contract of sale, just prior to Council announcing a withdrawal from the contract.

While there have been a number of possible development proposals considered by subsequent Nillumbik Shire Councils, this site has remained vacant since July 1996.

(Prepared by Jim Connor, Eltham District Historical Society- March 2018- Based on press, council and personal records)
June 1996 - Eltham Shire offices sold to Dallas Price Homes for $1.1 million.
July 1996 - Shire office building demolished against community's wishes. Council claimed building riddled with asbestos.
September 1996 - Planning application submitted to Nillumbik Shire Council to construct on the site a 24 hours Shell service station, convenience store, Hungry Jacks café/takeaway food premises, a retail facility and community facility. 213 objections and petition of over 1400 signatures received. Minister for Planning and Local Government orders an independent investigation into valuation and sale.
9 October 1996 - Permit granted by Nillumbik Shire Council commissioners, in controversial circumstances. A Planning Special Committee consisting of 3 commissioners and 3 community representatives considered 32 community objections. One commissioner declared a potential conflict of interest so only 2 commissioners were able to vote. After hearing all objections, the community representatives moved a foreshadowed motion to refuse a permit. The commissioners then closed the meeting, formerly opened a council meeting (for about a minute) and approved the application.
October 1996 - Community members appealed planning decision to Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
November 1996 -Minister for Planning and Local Government Robert McClelland calls appeal in and directs MT to refer this 'major policy issue' to the Governor in Council.
February 1997 - Planning panel (Dimity Reed and Margaret Pitt) established to consider submissions.
March 1997 - New council elected with five councillors.
April 1997 - Three of the five new councillors vote to fight Commissioner's decision to grant a permit.
April 1997 - Planning panel (Dimity Reed and Margaret Pitt) conducts hearings at Nillumbik Shire offices.
June 1997 -Planning panel rejected Dallas Price Homes proposal as being 'totally inappropriate' for the site and recommends the site be rezoned for 'public purposes'.
July 1997 - Dallas Price Homes threatened to sue Council and individual councillors.
October 1997 - Report released of an Advisory Committee (Paul Jerome) established by the Minister for Planning and Local Government. Committee considered Dallas Price Homes proposal and an alternative concept plan proposal by Council for a gallery, workshop, offices and cinema community-based development. Advisory Committee recommended Dallas Price Homes proposal be rejected as not satisfying the requirements of the planning scheme and recommended further testing of the financial viability of Council's proposal.
December 1997 - Dallas Price Homes withdrew from the contract of sale, just prior to Council announcing a withdrawal from the contract, which expired on 28th November and was not renewed by either side, after previously being extended twice pending a decision by the Minister. Council had to pay developer $58,000 for demolition costs.
February 1998 - Dallas Price Homes application rejected by Planning and Local Government Minister.
October 1998 - Nillumbik Councillors suspended and an Administrator appointed (until March 1999).


The demolition of the former Shire of Eltham offices and proposed sale and development driven by the Commissioners for Nillumbik Shire Council brought the community together in substantial protest at the infrigement of ratepayers democratic say in local government and ciommunity assets combined with protests about inappropraite development of Eltham's Gateway. This issue led to the formation of the Eltham Community Action Group which still operates strongly today (2023) on behalf of the community to ensure appropriate development within the community.

Physical description

A4 coloured, 4 pages (A3 double sided single fold)