Historic mansion torn down after minister refused protection

Residents in the upper class Melbourne suburb Toorak say they are ‘heartbroken’ to see a historic mansion torn down by its new owner.

The property was purchased by a Chinese investor for $20 million in 2013, who flew in via private jet to make the purchase.

This week the wreckers moved in.

The 102-year-old structure was a local landmark. Photo: 7 News
The 102-year-old structure was a local landmark. Photo: 7 News

The mansion was built in 1916 and featured ornate rooms and manicured grounds set on an acre bloke.

Neighbours told 7 News the demolition made them ‘want to cry’ and that it was ‘heartbreaking’ to see the landmark reduced to rubble.

The inside of the five-bedroom art nouveau villa, Idylwilde, is now exposed to the street after bulldozers tore apart the Toorak property on Wednesday.

The property, marketed as "a rare and beautiful piece of Australian real estate", was bought by Chinese entrepreneur Wang Hua in late 2013 for $18.5 million.

"Wow, having seen this house, this is an absolute disgrace," James Saretta tweeted.

Its pool, tennis court and four-car garage remain intact, for now.

The demolition was approved last year by then-planning minister, now-opposition leader Matthew Guy who rejected council appeals to add the property to a heritage register.


The previous Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy refused a council request for heritage protection on the building. Photo: Supplied
The previous Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy refused a council request for heritage protection on the building. Photo: Supplied

City of Stonnington applied last year for heritage protection with the support of many residents but then-minister Matthew Guy refused the request.

The council has said, in light of that, it could not legally block the demolition.

The owner, Mr Wang, is believed to also own another property in Toorak worth around $3.5 million, as well as the prestigious Heritage Golf and Country Club in the city's east.

He was also linked to a proposed transformation of financially-troubled Macedon Grammar School and turning it into an elite boarding school.

Those plans were scuppered in December when the school was shut down by the state government.

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