Sale treads on sacred grounds

Concerns land sell-off undermines town history


Residents Phil Peters, John Wrigley and Annette Macarthur-Onslow are concerned over the future of the St John’s Anglican Church site if part of the land is sold. Picture: Angelo Velardo


Part of the St John’s church site is planned to be sold.

THE proposed sale of the surrounding lands of Camden’s cherished 168-year-old St John’s Anglican Church has distressed the Camden Historical Society.

Society vice-president John Wrigley said the site was not “just another parcel of land”.

“The church has been the focal point of Camden since the 1840s,” he said. “It is such a key part of our town’s history and landscape.

“This area of land, which provides the wonderful setting for one of the most recognised heritage sites in Australia, is not just another block of land to make money from.”

The backlash to the proposed sale has been persistent since the church revealed last year its plans to sell part of its site to raise funds for a new $6 million worship centre.

The entire St John’s precinct is listed as historically significant on the State Heritage Register.

Mr Wrigley said he hoped the church would fully explore its options to ensure the land was not developed following the recent community meeting.

“I really do have hope the meeting will remind the church hierarchy of the community feeling of the matter,” he said.

“It is an emotional subject for anyone who lives in Camden and I find it hard to imagine the church would just walk away as custodians of the land.

“I believe the church hierarchy is underestimating the extent of the opposition to this proposal.”

A glimmer of hope has been sparked by Camden business owner Steve Wisbey, suggesting the community can unite to buy and protect the land – an idea Mr Wrigley supports.

“I do think there is an opportunity through fundraising, public appeals and local wealthy people that we can all rise to the occasion.”

St John’s Anglican Church minister Tony Galea told the Macarthur Chronicle earlier this month he had no problem with the community buying the land.

He said he hoped the parcel of land and rectory would be listed for sale at the end of the year.