In the past 25 years, Greater Sydney has grown by 1.3 million people to reach its current population of 4.7 million. Today, Greater Sydney is one of the top 10 fastest growing regions in the Western world. By 2036 it is projected to be home to another 1.7 million people (6.4 million total), and by 2056 will reach a total of 7.9 million.
In addition, Greater Sydney is currently seeing a higher number of births, with around 63,500 births each year. At the other end of the spectrum, the proportion of over-85s will almost triple in the next 25 years. These two statistics alone generate the need for greater housing choice and affordability as well as community facilities from baby health care, child care and schools, to support services for older people.
To keep up with this population growth, we need to be building about one church per year for the next 25 years. We are currently building churches at a rate of one every four years. The Greenfields initiatives in the Growth Corporation Strategic Plan are designed to strategically prioritise the locations we need to build new churches and implement mechanisms to quicken the pace of church development to support effective ministry and evangelism to new communities.
Some solid planning work has been done by the Diocese in previous years regarding greenfield / new release areas. This strategic thinking has seen new church facilities developed in growth corridors. These properties have also seen strong increases in values because they were identified and purchased ahead of zoning changes for land release areas.
This has resulted in additional funds being available for subsequent church planting. This initiative has already begun following the release of the Greater Sydney Commission’s Strategic Plan, and will continue as detailed regional plans are completed by the Commission to inform Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) revisions.
There are currently a range of geographic information tools being used by the Diocesan organisations. In many cases, these are being used as mapping tools without being utilised as data management tools for strategic planning and asset management.
A review will be undertaken of the existing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) within the Diocese with the result being to adopt one system as the source of truth.
As part of this review, the Growth Corporation will make recommendations on aligning current parish boundaries with Census Collector Districts to make it easier for parishes to obtain accurate Census information on their parishes.
There have been a number of church plants undertaken in the Diocese with varying degrees of success. At present, the lessons learnt from these experiences are confined to the minds of those involved in the church plants. We need to examine these experiences so that we can better understand what factors have allowed for church plants to thrive, and what challenges have been faced and how they might be overcome or avoided in future. If we are to invest in multi-million dollar projects, we must have a more systematic approach to collecting and sharing these lessons so that we can continually improve our stewardship of our time and financial resources.
Modular construction is permanent structures fabricated off-site and put together on-site and is changing the way building construction is undertaken in a range of different industries. It should not be confused with demountable buildings.
This form of design and construction has the potential to reduce the cost of new church buildings while not compromising on outcomes and finishes, when compared with bespoke church design.
This form of construction also has the advantage of aligning easily with the stages of a church plant’s growth, allowing for the church’s buildings to grow and change as the church does, thereby reducing the cost burden on new congregations.
There are practical advantages of collaborative developments with Anglicare, Moore College and Anglican Schools. Initiatives such as sharing carparks, co-locating ministry activities or enhancing buying-power through contractor and consultant commissions open up greater opportunities to be better stewards of the financial resources we have been entrusted with as we work together.
Through the development of the Greenfields Strategic Plan and the Urban Renewal Strategic Plan, we have the potential to collaborate with sister organisations to better reach the communities in which we operate. This needs to be done around agreed ministry plans that help us demonstrate Christ’s love, and that also provide a pathway from pastoral care and love to hearing the good news about Jesus.
The Anglican Diocese is not geared-up to be a property developer. For complex developments, we will need to partner with reliable and skilled organisations that have an ethos that aligns with ours, and are able to unlock the maximum value for mission and effectively manage risk.
The Growth Corporation is in the process of forming these partnerships with developers and financial institutions to either partner on complex buildings or to be the owner/operator of a greenfield community hub on behalf of the property developer.