Green light for Ryman’s Moondah redevelopment

The 1888 Moondah mansion will be extended east (pictured) and north.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has granted Ryman Healthcare permission to redevelop Mount Eliza’s landmark Moondah estate as a luxury retirement living and aged care facility.

One of the proposed buildings, near the site’s northern edge.

The approval ends a six year battle with the Shire of Mornington Peninsula, which the state government’s Planning Panels Victoria last October described as acting hastily and with little foresight for applying to rezone the land Green Wedge – a move which would have thwarted the project.

The Mount Eliza facility will open in stages between 2025-2027.

In a scathing report, council was also deemed to have treated Ryman unfairly for rejecting two development applications, the most recent, in 2021. The proposed regazette would deliver a planning outcome to the detriment of the local community too, it said.

Seven buildings including a house of worship will spread over the 8.9 hectare waterfront block.

Ryman paid the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Business School just over $37.5 million for the 8.9 hectare waterfront site in September, 2016.

Those sellers, under a different incarnation, picked up the property in 1957 from Sir Reginald Ansett, who operated it for the decade prior as the 5-star Manyung Hotel.

Charles Jacobsen purchased the Green Wedge zoned site (outlined) neighbouring Moondah from the Ansett family in 2018.

Sir Reginald also lived at a substantial holding next door nowadays owned by another retirement living developer, Charles ‘Chas’ Jacobsen, who bought it in two parts, in 2006 and 2018.

Next chapter for waterfront site

At 60-70 Kunyung Road, the Ryman block contains a heritage protected 42 room mansion developed as a family home in 1888 by pastoralist James Grice.

The redevelopment, with an end value of c$317m, will add six buildings, up to four floors, offering a total of 104 apartments and 27 assisted living suites.

The aged care complex will accommodate another 60 residents, with low, high and specialist dementia care.

A bar, beauty salon, bowling green, café, cinema, gym, indoor pool and place of worship also form part of the plan.

“We’re excited to get on with the job of restoring Moondah and creating a community that’ll care for older Mount Eliza locals for decades to come,” Ryman Australia’s chief executive officer, Cameron Holland, said.

“Because the village will offer locals high quality independent living and aged care options all in one place, residents will be able to stay in the community they know and love even if their health needs change over time,” he added (story continues below).

Low rise structures will face Kunyung Road.

“That continuum of care model, pioneered by Ryman, allows people to live healthy, independent lives for as long as possible, while at the same time freeing up housing stock in the area and taking pressure off already strained local health services,” according to the executive.

A bowling green (front) and house of worship (centre) form part of the Ryman design.

Construction is set to start this year – with completion scheduled in stages between 2025-2027.

The approval comes a month since Ryman offloaded another Mornington Peninsula block – 180 Bentons Rd, Mount Martha – which council also rejected for a retirement living community.

Sanity prevails: Grice family

The historic Moondah mansion will form the centrepiece of Ryman’s proposal.

“We are extremely pleased with this long awaited great decision from VCAT and are just really relieved that sanity has prevailed,” Colin Cook, the great grandson of Mr Grice, said.

“Moondah is a historic treasure that is already starting to show signs that it’s in need of love and attention it very much deserves,” he added.

“To see it fully restored [for] a new community for older people will be fantastic and my great grandfather would be quietly pleased to know it will be preserved and protected for decades to come”.

New Zealand listed Ryman – which turns 40 next year – established its first Australian village, in Victoria, just over a decade ago.

It now runs seven in the state, with six more in planning or under construction – at Coburg North, Essendon, Highett, Kealba, Mulgrave and Ringwood East.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of