St Luke’s Anglican Church Renovation Approved, Locals Express Traffic Concerns

St Luke's Anglican Church
Photo Credit: Google Maps

St Luke’s Anglican Church in Clovelly has been granted approval to proceed with its $1.8 million renovation project, amidst vocal opposition from local residents concerned about potential traffic congestion. 

The decision was made during a recent meeting of the Randwick Local Planning Panel, where objections from neighbouring residents and the Varna Street Action Group were raised.

The proposed upgrade works for St Luke’s Anglican Church involved the partial demolition of the church hall and excavation of the basement. The Anglican Church Property Trust Diocese of Sydney, the owner of the site, submitted DA 417/2022 in August. 

The primary goal of the renovations was to make the church fully wheelchair accessible for the first time. This would be achieved through the installation of a lift connecting the basement, first and second floors, as well as the addition of a new first-floor meeting room, office space, and accessible bathrooms.

St Luke's Anglican Church
Photo Credit: DA 417/2022

However, residents expressed concerns about traffic congestion caused by the church’s activities. With Clovelly Public School located opposite the church, residents feared that the existing congestion would worsen, especially during school hours. 

The Varna Street Action Group, representing concerned residents, also raised objections about the size and scale of the proposed building, as well as the potential overshadowing of neighbouring properties. Dance classes operating within the church had also been identified. In total, Council received 19 unique objections to the development plans.

Despite this, the Randwick Local Planning Panel approved the renovation project, citing the need to make the church facilities accessible to all members of the community. The panel acknowledged the concerns related to existing traffic and parking conditions but clarified that these were not the subject of the current application. 

St Luke's Anglican Church
Photo Credit: DA 417/2022

To address the residents’ worries, the panel imposed conditions to regulate activities within the site and facilitate better communication between the church and the properties around it. However, the commercial use of the hall was not part of the planning panel’s consent and would be addressed separately.

David James, the spokesperson for the Varna Street Action Group, expressed support for the church’s goal of improving accessibility but maintained that the area already suffered from significant traffic problems. He believed that expanding the commercial space in the church hall without providing additional parking would exacerbate the congestion issue.

To foster community engagement and address concerns, a condition of the approved plans includes the establishment of a community liaison committee consisting of senior church representatives. This committee will meet four times within the first year following the completion of the renovation work. Additionally, an acoustic consultant will review a management plan to ensure compliance with all acoustic requirements.

St Luke’s Senior Minister, Reverend Dave Rogers, emphasized that the development would not significantly increase the church’s size but would greatly enhance accessibility and create a more welcoming environment for the community. The church has been an integral part of Clovelly since 1894 and seeks to accommodate various community activities.

Published 22-June-2023