Push for church site to get heritage listing

Group seeks support for campaign to register historic buildings and open space


Residents are keen for Camden’s St John’s Anglican Church Precinct to be heritage listed on the state register to give it additional protection in the future. Main picture: Simon Bullard

A GRASSROOTS community campaign is racing against time to have Camden’s St John’s Church Precinct heritage listed on the state register to give it maximum protection from any future development.

Camden Residents Action Group is calling on the community to support the nomination by one of its members to protect the precinct’s historic buildings and open space and to support any future applications for restoration grants.

Group president Glenda Davies said at the moment, the precinct was listed on the local significance register.


“If it can be listed on the State Heritage Register, any developments would have to go through the State Government’s heritage (office) rather than through the local council, and the listing would also allow us to get grants,’’ she said.

The Heritage Council is meeting tomorrow to determine whether to proceed with an “intention’’ to list.

If recommended the intention will be open for public comment and be put to NSW Environment and Heritage Minister Gabrielle Upton for final approval and gazettal.

Members of the action group are calling on residents to make their support known by contacting the Heritage Office and Ms Upton.

Ms Davies said if the precinct received state heritage listing any future developments would also face the scrutiny of the government’s heritage architects before plans could proceed. “We feel it should be on the state register to make it hard for developments to interrupt views to the church and any future developments would have to show they do not degrade the heritage significance,’’ she said.

The community has been concerned about the future of the precinct since St John’s Anglican Church revealed last year its plans to sell part of its site to raise funds for a new $6 million worship centre. The 168-year-old precinct was previously on the national heritage register but the listing was later archived.

Historian John Wrigley said he supported the bid to place the precinct on the State Heritage Register.

“It’s an accident that this has not happened many years ago. I hope the listing proceeds smoothly so we can protect what is a focal point at the core of Camden,’’ he said. One of the criteria for listing is “It has strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in NSW for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.” St John’s Anglican Church has declined to comment on the proposal because spokesman, Rev Tony Galea, is on holidays until Wednesday.

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‘‘ The precinct is intrinsic to the identity of Camden and the people of Camden feel it belongs to them
Glenda Davies