In 1996, unbeknown to the local community and the golf club, following initiatives of the university, the land that included the golf course and public reserve was sold by the ULA to the university at a cost of $580,000 based on its value as public open space.
The area totals approx. 18 hectares in size and the amount paid by the university was equivalent to the value (at the time) of about 7 - 8 house blocks in the nearby Gresswell Grange estate. The sale was undertaken privately and did not include any open tender or other public process.
Documentation acquired via FOI requests indicate that the purchase and transfer of title was to include a covenant that the land was to remain as Public Open space. This covenant was never initiated by either the ULA or the university.
An extract from the La Tobe University's Finance and Resources Committee's minutes of the 12/08/1996, as obtained via a FOI request states that the reason for La Trobe University purchasing the property was "The ULA has made it clear that it intends to sell the property and there is no doubt that land developers and others would find the property an attractive opportunity. In these circumstances it is regarded as essential that the Strathallan site remain in its current open state. Even partial development or inappropriate development of recreational facilities would have a severe effect upon the Moat system. The effects of full scale development would be catastrophic."
Since 1999 when the actual title was transferred to the university, the golf club has leased the land from the university.
Below is a copy of the Letter from the Urban Land Authority, regarding the purchase of the golf course land by La Trobe University, advising the Planning Minister of the land sale. This letter was gained via an FOI request to Places Victoria (previously known as the Urban Land Authority).
Point 2 in this memo clearly indicates that the University's objective in acquiring the land is to maintain the golf course in its present form and manage it as a buffer to the adjacent Habitat Link.