Bandicoot is just back from a filing cabinet raid with some scribbled notes about what the Murdoch family expects – there’s no suggestion of “requests” – for Dame Elisabeth’s beloved property at Langwarrin.
The Cruden Farm Trust plan is to:
■ retain the farm in the Rural Conservation zone, but …
■ introduce an “incorporated document” to permit some “associated and complementary” land uses to support access and broader community benefits
■ exempt the farm from Green Wedge Zone conditions that would limit unspecified activities permitted on the land
■ rezone 16.4 hectares (30.4%) of the 54-hectare farm from Rural Conservation Zone to General Residential Zone so it can be sold off
■ (some planning blather) to ensure that the residential development – and here Bandicoot quotes – “establishes a landscape and urban character and density that comfortably integrates with the surrounding context”. As, of course, it should. The Old Coot just loves a bit of comfortable integration! He’s sure the very fondly remembered Dame Elisabeth would approve, too, comfortably integrated in the afterlife.
■ (last, but certainly not least), to redraw – the trust proposal uses the word “modify” – the Urban Growth Boundary (“which presently encircles the site”) to remove what the trust calls the “surplus” land it wants to flog for housing.
■ and finally: “The UGB will be retained around the main estate (33ha) and native bushland area (5ha), to enshrine the long term use of the estate for a range of cultural, recreational, education and tourism uses that are compatible with the site’s Rural Conservation Zoning”.
The phrase “will be” has a certain Rupertian ring about it. Below: Mr Murdoch and new wife Jerry Hall.
Bandicoot recalls reading that the excised land would slice neatly into 110 house blocks, if subdivision were to be approved. How much apiece could one charge for each block?
Would $250,000 per block be about right in this lovely corner of Langwarrin, within olfactory range of the famous Dame Elisabeth roses when the summer zephyr is wafting from the right point of the compass? Would the resulting $30 million or so “enshrine the long term use of the estate” – that is, if wisely invested, pay for continuing maintenance and improvement of Cruden Farm?
Bandicoot, whose innumeracy is legend in the family, is almost certainly well above or incompetently below a reasonable guess on the money that could be made from any land sale. Certainly any return, if a subdivision is approved – it will be dubbed “Cruden Estate” or similar for prestige and additional return – would be in the multi-millions.
It would be surprising if Dame Elisabeth did not provide in her will for ongoing maintenance for her beloved home of 86 years. Perhaps she was pragmatic enough to consider a subdivision would do the trick and protect the farm from further encroachments. We will know only if her will, or parts of it, is released.
The entire matter is being played close to the chests of various players in this drama, who are making the ‘Ndrangheta look like chatterboxes. It is possibly a natural reaction to any mention of the name “Murdoch”: Bandicoot, having sat at a Leader sub-editing terminal many aeons ago, smiles when he recalls the terror the name stamped on the visages of colleagues.
Under mild pressure, assorted officials involved in the Cruden Farm proposal have wriggled and squirmed, citing chronologies, Sections and Clauses, arguing the need for secrecy, then finally hand-passing the problem back and forth.
It ended up with one hapless soul who had to report, regretfully, that the right person was on sick leave, or maternity leave or … had recently retired or gone to Mongolia and not left a forwarding address.
Such is the power of the octogenerian American!