AN EXPERT panel says a house should win heritage protection in a blow to owners who argued it was not as important as a scientific observatory out the back.
The planning panel has rejected claims Kennington's "La Rocca" property has changed too much over time to qualify for protection.
The ruling brings local heritage protections a step closer, though the City of Greater Bendigo and state planning minister are still to make their final rulings.
The house was designed and built by iconic early Bendigo architect John Beebe and includes a private observatory out the back.
People used the observatory to record Bendigo's weather in the early 20th century and that building is one of the few of its type left standing in Victoria.
Everyone involved in discussions believes the observatory needs protection but opinion has been mixed on other parts of the property.
The expert panel has ruled that while the La Rocca house has been modified over time, enough of it has survived to make protections necessary.
"Although the mid 20th century alterations and additions to the residence diminish the significance of the place, the remaining fabric enables the building to be understood as a transitional late Victorian or early Edwardian residence," the panel said.
The building's heritage significance is bolstered by the fact it is the only surviving residence associated with a private observatory, it said.
"The residence 'La Rocca' contributes to the importance of the former East Bendigo Observatory building and provides an important setting and context," the panel found.
"The understanding and appreciation of the observatory would be diminished without the residence 'La Rocca'."
The panel heard evidence of storm damage to part of the building but said that was not relevant to its assessment.
The panel agreed that some trees on the site had no heritage significance.
The council dropped its push to protect that vegetation earlier this year.
John Beebe built the observatory in 1900 and regularly allowed students and scientists to use what, at the time, was highly sought after equipment.
The observatory was part of a burgeoning rivalry between the city, Ballarat and Castlemaine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when scientific bragging rights were on the line.
The architect worked on a host of important buildings around Bendigo, a number of which are now celebrated for their style and historical value.
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