St John’s Church Precinct Community Alert and Heritage Listing

As announced in State Parliament on Thursday 16 August 2018 the Minister has signed off on the state heritage listing of St John’s Church Precinct. It is understood that the listing will be gazetted on 24 September 2018.

As shown in the listing process below sign off by the Minister was critical.

    • Investigation of Heritage Significance; DONE
    • Presentation of the item as a Draft Nomination to the SHR Committee of the NSW Heritage Council for their consideration; DONE 4 October 2017
    • Consultation with all major stakeholders; DONE
    • Presentation of the item as a Notice of Intention to Consider Listing report to the SHR Committee; DONE
    • Notification of all major stakeholders and public advertising of Heritage Council recommendation to include the whole St John’s Precinct in the State Heritage Register; DONE commenced 11 October 2017, CLOSED 8 November 2017
    • Presentation of the item to the Heritage Council as part of a Recommendation to List report; DONE
    • Referred to Minister Gabrielle Upton; DONE 6 December 2017
    • Approved by Minister; DONE 16 August 2018
    • Notification of all major stakeholders;
    • Announcement in the NSW Government Gazette . FORESHADOWED AS 24 September 2018 

Heritage Council’s assessment of St John’s Precinct

St John’s Anglican Church Precinct is of state heritage significance as a group of ecclesiastical buildings set in a beautiful landscape setting comprised of mature and exotic tree plantings and open grassed slopes. The precinct’s centre and focal point is St John’s the Evangelist Anglican Church which is of state heritage significance as the first Gothic Revival church constructed in NSW that was correct in its medieval detail (‘archaeologically correct’). This status, along with its strong connection to the 1836 Church Act, renders it an important early forerunner of the Gothic Revival movement which was to dominate ecclesiastical architecture in the Colony throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century.

The church, and especially its tower and spire, is aesthetically significant to NSW as part of the regional Camden landscape created by the Macarthur family. St John’s as an important regional landmark is a significant element in the picturesque landscape planning used to create the Camden Park Estate, the seat of the Macarthur family.

As part of a triumvirate of significant points in the landscape, along with Camden Park House and the township of Camden, it also expresses the power structures the Macarthur family wished to instil in the local community they were creating in the early nineteenth century. This regional landscape design is of state heritage significance as an important example of early-mid nineteenth century landscape planning.

The entire church precinct has an important historical association with the Macarthur family of Camden. Each of the precinct allotments was donated to the Anglican Church by the Macarthurs and the family funded the construction of most of the buildings and patronised the operation of the church throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ultimately, St John’s Anglican church precinct is a remarkable, picturesquely located, and historic place of Anglican worship in a state context.

This has been a long road to this point since CRAG first became aware of and alerted the community of the intention to sell the horse paddock and Rectory in November 2016 and approval by the Minister in August 2018 for state listing of the whole St John’s Hill Precinct. Although State listing does not prevent a sale, it does limit developer interest and prevents inappropriate development. On behalf of the community and future generations we thank all involved, particularly our tireless researcher who wrote up the nomination, thought through every possible avenue to increase its chances, corrected the previously accepted historical account of land ownership and kept in constant communication with the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Background:

A sale ordinance, dated 4 December 2016, was prepared for the Rectory and land between it and St John’s Church by St John’s Parish Council and approved by the Standing Committee of the Sydney Diocese on 1 May 2017. This approval provided the means for St John’s Parish Camden to proceed with selling these community icons.

St Johns Proposal 041216 

 

More information on what was proposed and how to object was gathered to alert the community

Information available at 8 December 2016

Objections were lodged with the Diocese by CRAG and others

14 December 2016 CRAG objection sale ordinance St John’s

7 March 2017 Follow up CRAG submission sale ordinance St John’s 

The 2004 Conservation Management Plan and 2010 Addendum for the Precinct was acquired and made public which provided indisputable evidence that it is of outstanding heritage significance.

CMP and Addendum

25 February 2017 Nomination for State Heritage Listing 

CRAG 12 March 2017 St John’s Camden State Heritage Listing support

26 April 2017 Community issues raised Meeting with Rev Tony Galea 260417 Community Issues

2 July 2017 Open Community meeting  at 11.30 St John’s Church

CRAG QUESTIONS for Community Meeting re St John’s proposed sale 2 July 2017

Media Report on community meeting: Jeff McGill 3 July 2017 OPINION | Church attempt to justify land sale falls flat Camden Advertiser at https://www.camdenadvertiser.com.au/story/4768098/opinion-church-attempt-to-justify-land-sale-falls-flat/

Other select media available at

https://www.councilreporter.com/blog/st-johns-land-set-for-property-development

http://www.stjohnscamden.info/Press.html

http://www.stjohnscamden.info/FactCheck.html

Subsequent to the SHR recommendation to list, the Heritage Council received significant support for the listing by CRAG, other community groups and members writing to the NSW Heritage Office (heritage@heritage.nsw.gov.au; Locked Bag 5020, PARRAMATTA NSW 2124).

CRAG 8 Nov 2017 St John’s Camden State heritage Listing support

Once the intention to list was referred to the Minister, a petition with 628 signatures, most acquired at CRAG’s Light Up Camden booth on Saturday 18th November 2017, was presented to State member Chris Patterson, who tabled them in NSW Parliament on 23 November 2017. The petition asked the House to recognise the State Heritage significance of the entire precinct, expedite the listing of the whole Precinct on the State Heritage Register and asked the Legislative Assembly to refer the petition to the Minister for Heritage.

Advocacy for listing was maintained by the community including the National Trust through the media and by writing to the Minister (contacts details at https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/members/Pages/member-details.aspx?pk=59)

Although the State Heritage Register (SHR) Committee of the NSW Heritage Council resolved on 4 October 2017 to give notice of its intention to consider listing St John’s Anglican Church Precinct on the SHR with a curtilage that incorporates its three land titles it will have taken almost another year for it to be gazetted.