What did Council and the Coptic Church community do to try to save the building?
The Australian Government handed over the building to Council in 2001. The building required extensive work – estimated at $5 million in today’s money to make it useable. Over many years Council investigated options for re-use and tried to find an organisation that could take on the repairs. The most recent Expression of Interest process began in October 2013 during which the Coptic Orthodox Church Diocese of Sydney and Affiliated Regions submitted an adaptive reuse proposal. In May 2015 the Diocese withdrew its application. Council will now demolish the church and commemorate the site’s history in a public art and landscape interpretation. The site will remain in community use as part of the parklands of Sydenham Green. Heritage items including the memorial plaque on the front fence and the two foundation stones will be salvaged and included in the interpretation.
The church is heritage listed. Doesn’t that mean Council can’t demolish it?
Due to its location and dilapidation, the building cannot be used. Demolition is permitted when a building is unviable after a due process is followed. The heritage assessment which is available in the document library found that there are valid reasons to demolish the building. The assessment was that the building had no aesthetic, creative or technical significance but the site and buildings have social and historical significance through their association with religious practice by the Methodist Church and later the Coptic Church, and there is social significance for the Coptic community. The recommendation from the assessment was:
That demolition can occur. A photographic archival recording should be undertaken prior to demolition and that interpretation of the sites historic and social significance should occur with identified community groups.
How will this benefit the community?
The Plan of Management for Sydenham Green highlights the need to increase visual and physical connectivity across the various parts of the parklands, including the site where the church is located. The demolition of the building and the installation of the interpretation will provide more open space for the local community, and honour the memory of the site’s prior uses.
Will the land be sold off to developers?
No. Under the conditions of the transfer of the site from
the Australian Government, Council cannot sell, exchange or transfer the land.
Council's Plan of Management for Sydenham Green aims to integrate the different parcels of land and improve the open space for the use of the community.