The idea to sell the land has flown under the radar for most of the community, which is why if any residents want to object they only have until Friday, December 16, to do so. And that objection can only be by letter – not email. Anyone is able to object, not just parishioners. You can find the address at the bottom of this story.
The church is in the process of preparing sale and trust ordinances after a property developer made an offer on the land around 12 months ago but withdrew after it realised the delays involved in purchasing church property.
In response to this the church approached the Wollongong Diocese and instituted the process of developing sale and trust ordinances, so that should future offers be made on the land it can move more quickly. Essentially, the ordinances act like a pre-approval for sale.
According to Rev Tony Galea, as quoted in a story by Daniel Zautsen of the Macarthur Chronicle, “We won’t sell the land just for the sake of selling, it will only be sold if the right offer comes in that will enable us to fund the new building.”
The church leaders with the support of the Wollongong Diocese have framed this development proposal as the difference between leaving a legacy or a liability.
The church’s five stated reasons for supporting the sale of the land to a property developer according to Camden Residents Action Group are as follows:
- The rectory is heritage listed, expensive to repair and does not satisfy current ministry needs.
- Church plans to develop the vacant land between the rectory and church is very costly, especially due to its slope.
- Discussion with other Church organisations has not produced any interest in purchasing and developing the site.
- Camden is not longer the focus of the ministry with growth in ministries at Narellan, Oran Park, Harrington Park, Gregory Hills and with Leppington and Austral to come. Therefore the land can be sold as future development will not be required at St John's, Camden.
- An offer has been made to purchase the site for over 50’s housing which will:
- present opportunity to grow the congregation from housing next door to the Church;
- produce funds for development at St John’s to provide for the parish ministry and growth into the future.
It is unknown whether Camden Council officers gave an in-principal approval to the developer who made the offer some 12 months ago. If not, it’s quite a gamble and would remain so for any future developer who wanted to take this development on.
The church and precinct is a significant historical landmark according to the Office of Environment and Heritage. For that reason there are likely to be serious restrictions on the nature of the development and around the preservation of the rectory.
Any development would have to leave the profile of the hill and church intact. It would be a shame to see the church suffer the fate of Blair Athol House. Blair Athol House was a historical building on the hillside of Blair Athol housing estate that disappeared into the surrounding development. Campbelltown Council has rued the developments around this historical building that made it almost invisible beyond the suburb.
If you would like to make an objection, it would be wise to follow this example put forward by Camden Residents Action Group.
Objections should be sent to:
Mr Robert Wicks,
The Secretary of the Standing Committee Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney,
PO Box Q190, QVB Post Office, NSW, 1230.