The sale of a block of farmland surrounding the historic Woodbine homestead outside Port Fairy has devolved into controversy after Woodbine's owner hung a provocative banner on the side of the heritage-listed home.
Paul Bridgeford, who has owned Woodbine for 25 years, said he put up the sign - which reads "Save heritage land" - because he was concerned the surrounding block would be bought by a developer.
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Falk and Co sales manager Gary Attrill, who is selling the block said Mr Bridgeford was being disingenuous.
"The sign is misleading, because the land is zoned rural. It's farm land, it's nothing to do with heritage land," he said.
Mr Bridgeford said one of the things that worried him about the sale was the asking price of $2 million-plus.
"At that price there is no way that it could be used profitably as farmland," he said.
The property listing is pitched toward a buyer seeking to build on the land, calling it a "very exciting opportunity" presenting "a variety of opportunities for future development".
Mr Attrill said he had spoken with Moyne Shire Council officers, who had told him the land could be split into three 10-hectare blocks at most.
He also said Mr Bridgeford was himself interested in purchasing the land and it would be to his advantage if the sale price was depressed.
Mr Bridgeford said his banner had nothing to do with pushing down the sale price.
"I don't think I'd be able to buy the property. My major concern is to preserve the character of the surrounding area," he said.
There are significant doubts about whether the land could be developed at all.
The planning property report for the block shows a number of planning overlays applying to the land under the Moyne Shire planning scheme, including an environmental significance overlay, flooding overlay, inundation overlay, and significant landscape overlay.
Flooding and inundation overlays apply to over 40 per cent of the land, making any development on those sections expensive if they were approved by council.
But the biggest obstacle to any potential development would be the significant landscape overlay, which requires "the retention of an open plain surrounding the 'Woodbine' estate".
It is unclear what would constitute an "open plain" under the planning scheme and how far this would prohibit development around Woodbine.
Moyne Shire Council's acting CEO Kevin Leddin suggested any discussion of development was premature.
"The privately owned parcel of land for sale is zoned farming, but also has several overlays applied," he said. "Planning permits would likely be required for any development.
"No application has been lodged with Moyne Shire Council for re-zoning or planning permits for this parcel of land. If an application was lodged in the future, council would follow usual processes, which includes community consultation."
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