In the days where declining religious attendance in Australia appears to have become the status quo, one would expect a former church site to have little chance of returning to its former roots.
But migration patterns in Sydney’s west see that outlook being defied in some sections of the city, with four religiously affiliated parties eyeing off a church site in Telopea’s aptly named Lord Avenue, according to Peter Vines, lead agent for CBRE.
A lack of religiously approved sites and a resurgence in ethnic-associated christianity groups are driving the interest, along with the fact that the process to convert the site’s zoning is a lengthy process.
The former Anglican Church house at Telopea. Photo: Supplied
“There’s a few religious groups who are looking at it, but there’s also speculators looking to change the zoning,” Mr Vines said.
The prospects for surrounding Telopea look good, with a masterplan in place for the community, but despite the lack of heritage overlay changing the zoning of 24 – 26 Lord Avenue, Telopea is an arduous process which is putting off most developers.
“This one is a little different zoning is S2-SP1 place of worship, so council have zoned the property to house a place of worship, which means that unless you go through and do a rezoning or you are a church group you have to apply for change of use in order to use the property,” he said.
To make matters worse, the existing architecture is far removed from romanticised visions of old church towers with stained glass windows.
The Telopea site consists of a weatherboard church and brick house. Photo: Supplied
“It’s pretty ordinary. There’s a weatherboard church hall there and then there’s a three bedroom house on the property as well,” he said.
But a strong religious migrant community in the west – a well documented phenomenon in recent years – means selling the 2026-square-metre site shouldn’t be an issue.
“Where the interest is really coming from is the new Asian Christian groups looking to set up their own churches. It’s a flow on effect of migration patterns in recent years, and the relative lack of approved places of worship in those areas,” Mr Vines explained.
Over in Cronulla, where Mr Vines has another church listing, it’s a very different story.
Inside the church at 12-14 Wiltshire Avenue, Cronulla. Photo: Supplied
The historically listed building at 12-14 Wilshire Street is on a low density zoned site shared with an existing house, meaning development options are limited, and is likely to be re-appropriated as a childcare centre or home conversion.
Mr Vines said that use of church sites as childcare centres has precedent in highly developed Sydney suburbs, where the demand for large outdoor space is seldom met.
“It’s right near the beach, it’s 1800 square metres of land and there’s s a heritage church and a five-bedroom house on it. You can buy either church or the house or you can buy both together. Because of the land size, the heritage of the church and the location, a child care centre is definitely a feasible option, as is converting the church into a home” he said.
A home, or two, is what’s being tipped for a former church at 13 Margaret Street Hunter’s Hill, which has a guide of $2.8 million
A former church in Hunters Hill has been listed for sale with a guide of $2.8 million. Photo: Supplied
It’s been hosting the Hunters Hill Theatre Group for 25 years since last operating as a church, but the theatre group is vacating the building by March next year.
Listing agent Tracey Dixon, of McGrath Hunters Hill, says the building, subject to local heritage listing, is likely to be converted into apartments, subject to development approval.
“Something that’s converted into a couple of appartments with mezzanines would really work in Hunters Hill. There’s not not a lot of options for downsizing here in Hunters Hill, and people don’t like leaving the suburb,” Ms Dixon said.
“I don’t know that someone would buy it as one resident – I think it’s something that will be converted.”
Inside the Hunters Hill church, which has been used by a theatre group for the past 25 years. Photo: Supplied
Built in 1908, the church – formerly St Johns of Woolwich – is being sold on behalf of the Anglican Sydney Archdiocese and the Brisbane Church.
“I absolutely love the height of the ceilings and the wooden panels timber lined ceilings and the arch leadlight windows,” Ms Dixon said.
“With the right landscaping the house could be really beautiful.”
- 12-14 Wilshire Avenue, Cronulla and 14-26 Lord Avenue, Telopea are being offered for sale by EOI with CBRE. Submissions close on Thursday October 20 and Thursday November 3 respectively. 12 Margaret Street, Hunters Hill is being offered for sale by EOI with McGrath Hunters Hill closing November 2016.
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