Q. How many shares are there?
A. There are 32 shares, owned individually or jointly.
Q. How much is a share?
A. Selling prices for shares are negotiable. The price will depend on whether there is a house on the associated site and the condition of that house. Information about previous sales as a guideline to assist purchase is available from the Secretary.
Q. How do I purchase a share?
A. Shares can only be purchased with the approval of Directors and this occurs after a prospective member has gone through the membership process. (See Membership FAQs below.) Negotiations for a share take place between a shareholder and the prospective or approved Member. Once approved by Directors the share can be transferred.
Membership of the Co-op does not confer freehold title. The Co-op owns the land and provides a long-term lease to members. Because of the lease-hold tenure (and the Co-op requirement to approve membership) financial institutions (banks etc) have been reluctant to provide mortgage finance. Consequently, purchasing a share requires alternative financing arrangements. Vendor’s Terms finance is one option, where the vendor and purchaser negotiate suitable financial arrangements. The Co-op can provide further information on how this may work.
Q. How much does it cost to become an Associate?
A. There is a one-off application fee of $400 to become an Associate. This will be refunded when the Associate becomes a member; at the discretion of the Directors if the Associate withdraws from the membership process; or if the Associate is rejected for membership. Directors can reject an application for Associate Membership without explanation.
Q. How long does it take to become a member?
A. There is no definitive answer to this question, but Associates should be prepared for this to take up to a year or more.
During this time Associates participate fully in Co-op activities and receive detailed information about the Co-op’s structure and management, financial options for buying a share and the membership process.
Associates need time to assess what it means to become a member of the Co-operative and Members need time to get to know applicants and be sure they are fully aware of all that membership implies before approving Membership.
Q. What is the process of becoming a member?
A. Associates are guided through a structured membership process which covers the three key areas of Protecting, Sharing and Living.
The objectives of this process are to ensure the future sustainability of the Co-op by selecting people who have a genuine interest in conserving this environment, are willing to learn and to be active, committed Members.
We aim to educate Associates about all aspects of the Co-op in a progressive, structured and positive way to help them understand what it is to become a Member of the Co-op. We provide opportunities for interested people to demonstrate skills and knowledge that they would bring to the Co-op.
Q. What fees are charged to members?
A. The annual levy is currently $880. If a Member does not complete their required six work parties in the financial year, there is a levy of $75 per work party not completed.
Q. What does the annual levy go towards?
A. The annual budget includes administrative costs, conservation costs, donations, subscriptions, insurance, rates, land tax, archives, marketing and promotion.
Q. Can your membership be taken from you?
A. The Rules allow for forfeiture of Membership in the event of a Member being inactive. The lease can be forfeited in the event of a breach of any the conditions of the lease.
Q. How big is the total amount of land?
A. The property is 130ha of which 4.8ha is set aside for house sites, leaving 125.2ha for conservation.
Q. What are the expectations on members to contribute to the nature conservation of the Co-op?
A. Being a Member of the Co-op is a commitment to the protection of the indigenous environment of this land. Co-op Members are expected to actively participate in a range of activities for conservation management:
Committees and working groups
Field days and guest speakers
Monitoring and record keeping
Participating in BICA (Bend of Islands Conservation Association) activities
As a guide, Members spend 6 to 8 hours a month on these activities. Work parties are four hours long and scheduled monthly. They focus on weed control, burning for biodiversity, protection of rare and endangered species, and soil conservation.
Leases and houses
Q. How much land can a shareholder have?
A. Each Member is entitled to a house site to a maximum area of 1500sqm. Each site has boundaries that are noted on the lease.
Q. How long is a lease?
A. Leases for house sites are for 200 years.
Q. Are leased sites fenced?
A. The SUZ2 (Nillumbik Planning Scheme) prohibits fencing except for the protection of
regenerating bush and of kitchen gardens.
The Co-op lease specifically prohibits fences. This is to enable free passage for wildlife and to reduce the visual impact of residences. Directors approval needs to be sought for fencing for vegetation rehabilitation and kitchen gardens. Kitchen gardens need fencing to prevent possums and other wildlife from eating the produce.
Q. Who owns the land and the house?
A. The building is part of the leasehold and is owned by the lessee. The land is owned by the Co-op.
Q. Can I leave the share and property to my children?
A. On the death of a Member the share is transferred to the executor. The share can be transferred (or sold) to anyone who has been approved for Membership (via the usual membership process) by Directors. This can include any beneficiaries of the deceased shareholder who are approved for Membership.
Q. Are there any restrictions for building on the Co-op?
A. The Co-op has oversight of all leaseholds and leaseholders are expected to seek approval from Directors for building and renovating (materials and design).
All buildings and renovations on the Co-op must meet statutory regulations and have the required approvals. Directors have the power to approve, reject or require change to applications.
Note, that building a new house on the Co-op may be expensive and difficult due to the Bushfire Overlay and the requirements of building to the BAL rating. We cannot guarantee Council approval of a new building.
Q. Do any special planning regulations apply on the Co-op?
A. The Co-op is zoned SUZ2 – Environmental Living in the Shire of Nillumbik Planning Scheme. It is also under the Bushfire Overlay and the Environmental Significance Overlay.
Living on the Co-op
Q. What services are there on house sites?
A. All sites on the Co-op have underground power and telecoms. Wi-fi is available; some residents opt for satellite. Mobile reception can be erratic and unreliable depending on location.
We are not connected to mains water or sewerage. Leaseholders collect rainwater for consumption as well as for bushfire fighting and most sites use a septic or worm farm system.
The Shire provides rubbish collection – waste, recycling and organic.
Q. How many people live on the Co op? What is the breakdown of families/couples/singles?
A. There are approximately 40 residents on the Co-op, including about a dozen children. There is a mixture of families, couples and singles.
Q. How many houses are there on the Co-op?
A. There are 24 houses.
Q. Can I have animals?
A. The keeping of domestic pets or livestock by residents or visitors is prohibited by the SUZ2 (Nillumbik Planning Scheme). This includes dogs, cats, goats, horses, donkeys and dingoes.
Q. How far is it to local shops and public transport?
A. There is no public transport in the Bend of Islands. The closest train stations are at Wattle Glen and Eltham, 20 to 30 minutes-drive away. The closest shops are in Yarra Glen, about a fifteen-minute drive.
Q. Can I grow veggies on the land?
A. Leaseholders may grow veggies in a defined kitchen garden up to a maximum of 150 square meters. Plants must not include any declared environmental weed or other invasive species. There are some banned plants e.g. fennel and plum trees.
The type of garden, it’s position, containment and size, the availability of water and its long-term viability all need to be carefully considered. The use of herbicides, insecticides and fertilisers in the main are not to be used without Directors’ prior permission. Soil and garden materials which are imported must be guaranteed to be sterilised and weed free (including pot plants).
Q Is it feasible to live on the Co-op and work in the city?
A. Yes, though travel times will depend on your work location and mode of transport. Several Members work in the city. Depending on the time of day, travel times to the city by car vary from 50 minutes to an hour and a half.
Q. Are there schools close by?
A. The closest State primary schools are Kangaroo Ground, Christmas Hills, Yarra Glen, Wattle Glen, Research and Hurstbridge. Local high schools include Eltham, Diamond Valley and Warrandyte. There are also several nearby private schools including Eltham College and Catholic Ladies College.
Q. Is there a local community close to the Co-op?
A. The Co-op is part of the local Bend of Islands community which is very active. There are multiple opportunities to get to know the wider community through the Bend of Islands Conservation Association, the Christmas Hills Fire Brigade, Food Co-op and Playgroup.
BICA (Bend of Islands Conservation Association) produces a yearly calendar of events. Highlights include the monthly Café Benders and the not-to-be-missed annual “Night Event” concert.
Q Are families with children welcomed as members of the Co-op?
A. Yes, we welcome families with children and the opportunity to educate the next generation about residential conservation.
Q. How do residents deal with the risk of bushfire?
A. Every resident’s plan for bushfire is different – depending on their specific site and personal circumstances. Some residents make the decision to stay and defend and some decide not to be in the area on high-risk days. There is a lot to learn about life in a high-risk bushfire area, but there are many resources to help residents make their decisions.
Q. Is the Co-op an "intentional community"?
A. No. The Co-op is not an “intentional community”. Its objective is residential conservation. Community arises out of this shared objective but the level of community involvement is purely up to each individual member.