It was reported in The Age (10/9/2023) that as a result of objections voiced by a group of Daylesford locals,  the producers of The Block have abandoned their plans to film the 2024 series (the 20th)  in Daylesford.

Hepburn Council approved the planning permit for the site at 1 Raglan St in April, however this is being challenged by objectors in VCAT. Given the potential delays to the project, the developer, Hygge Property, has applied to the Planning Minister, Sonya Kilkenny, seeking ministerial intervention.

As reported in The Age, Hygge Property director Adam Davidson said the application was made to avoid the project being bogged down in VCAT and that it was made regardless of whether The Block filmed at the location.

The Block proposal consisted of 5 large homes to be built near the intersection of Raglan St and the Midland Highway and was part of the larger Middleton Field project.  The project consists of over 60 home sites.

Mayor of Hepburn Shire Council, Cr Brian Hood said “Council is considering plans for the construction of five dwellings at 1 Raglan Street in Daylesford, submitted in mid-July this year. Council has been supportive of the broader Middleton Field development in which this land sits. After a substantial and extensive process Council resolved to approve a planning permit for the subdivision in April 2023. The permit included 86 conditions.”

Concerns about what will happen next were heightened with Hygge Property and The Block architect Julian Brenchley quoted in The Age  saying, ‘‘ From the objectors’ point of view, I would say, ‘Be careful what you wish for. We’ve convinced Hygge to create five big lots for our show. If we walk away, they may have to revert back to their original plans [for higher density] on the site.’’

The Wombat Post understands that Hygge Property either have, or intend to submit, revised plans to the minister and VCAT. These will supersede those approved by Council and are likely to include increased density and revisions to the 86 conditions imposed by Council. Many of the conditions were aimed at protecting specific trees and enhancing open land access.

Cr Hood also indicated that whilst acknowledging community input and objections, that  “The application for the five dwellings has not been withdrawn and is scheduled for a decision at its Ordinary Council Meeting on 17th October. Council is looking forward to understanding the economic and social benefits that the television show may bring to the Shire and is still very much interested in having those conversations.”

There was widespread disappointment in the community about the decision by the producers of The Block to withdraw. At a time when accommodation providers and local businesses are struggling to recover from the pandemic, The Block would have provided a much needed boost to the local economy and raised the tourism profile of the town. It has been reported that $500,000 in accommodation bookings were cancelled last Friday after the decision to withdraw was made. It is not only accommodation providers who will miss out – each overnight stay in Daylesford is estimated to add an additional $225 to the local economy.

More local Planning Applications

Council will consider an application for a single dwelling at 3 Frazer Street, Daylesford, at the regular Council meeting on September 19. Objections to the plans received by Council included overdevelopment of the site, inappropriate architecture, visual and amenity impacts, heritage values and traffic implications. Details of the application are included in the Council Agenda.

Current Planning applications that affect Daylesford, Hepburn and immediately surrounding communities are included in the table below. Closing dates listed for applications indicate the last date on which objections are guaranteed to be considered. Objections to planning applications will be considered after that date until a decision has been made.

Application ID Application Description Property Address Closing Date
PLN22/0404 Development of a single dwelling 30 Perrins Street DAYLESFORD VIC 3460 5/10/2023
PLN23/0028 Use and Development of a Dwelling and Removal of Native Vegetation 225 Whitegum Drive WHEATSHEAF VIC 3461 27/09/2023
PLN23/0155 Addition of sun room to existing dwelling, existing patio will be demolished 75 Main Road HEPBURN SPRINGS VIC 3461 18/09/2023
PLN23/0177 Development of land for a dwelling 42B Main Road HEPBURN SPRINGS VIC 3461 18/09/2023
PLN23/0184 New storage shed and workshop 17A Western Avenue HEPBURN VIC 3461 28/09/2023