Hunters Hill Trust objects to the Marist Fathers’ DA which proposes to carve off two 1000sqm house blocks from the landscaped area around St Peter Chanel Church along Crescent Street. This subdivision would:
- Significantly reduce the curtilage of the Church, which is is included in the heritage listing
- Reduce the beautiful park-like setting of the church
- Change the character of the Conservation Area, particularly in Crescent St by replacing the landscaped area with houses and driveways and removing large chunks of the existing rock forms.
Send written objections to DA 2017-1180 to Hunters Hill Council before February 16th. You can read HHT’s submission here.The Marist Fathers have owned this land since they bought it from George Shannon Arthur and William Cope in 1889 for 700 pounds. The community of Hunters Hill recognises the contribution the church makes through the provision of pastoral care and a place of peace and worship as well as a fine location for concerts and musical performances. The community has also supported the church because of the nature of the use of the site including the fine stone church and its vegetated curtilage, which adds substantially to the character of the Conservation Area. In recognition of this contribution, the community has financially supported the church by waiving collection of rates on the land for the last 127 years.
The proposed site for the subdivision into two house blocks of around 1000m2 each is along the northern boundary of the land which has a frontage to Crescent St and, which is a very steep embankment covered with trees and undergrowth. This green space creates the special character of Crescent Street as well as providing a wonderful backdrop to the church and its surrounds.
The proposed subdivision will require the removal of most of the existing trees, shrubs and ground cover to allow the construction of buildings, garages, driveways and recreation areas. The proposed house lots to be created by the subdivision of the site, will be comparatively narrow and because of the steepness of the site, most unsuitable for the construction of houses.
Open this link to see the aerial view more clearly.
Last week I wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald congratulating the paper on its painstaking investigation of the immense wealth of the Catholic Church in Australia. I wrote about how, over the years, the community has supported churches not just in recognition of the contribution they make through the provision of pastoral care and education etc. but also in recognition of the benefit the community gains just from having places of quiet and peace that are often beautifully landscaped and have fine heritage-listed buildings. That support has been granted to churches of all denominations through exemption from payment of Council rates and State taxes on church properties as well as from the fact that many of those properties were originally gifted to them by the community.
I wrote about the negative impact on the community when the church, needing to convert their assets into cash, sells of its lands. I reiterated the points raised in the HHT Journal article and in the submission we made to HH Council about the proposed subdivision at St Peter Chanel.
I was pleased that the letter was published. However, the editor decided to delete my final sentence, which followed on from ” there is no requirement for Churches to compensate the community for all those decades of rate-free occupation of community land”. That final sentence read: “When the Churches use that windfall money to pay lawyers to fight the claims of victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by Church employees then insult is added to injury.”