The NSW Government is currently requiring metropolitan Local Government Areas (LGAs) to review and revise their Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) mainly as a result of LGA amalgamations. They will be requiring all NSW LGAs to do the same over the next 12-18 months. Most Councils have chosen to change very little regarding zoning and what developments are allowed or permissible within the zones.
However, Cumberland City Council has sought to make substantial changes to its LEP to push new Places of Public Worship (PoPW) into industrial zones and limit the amount of further development existing PoPW can undertake in the future. A limited number of other Councils have also changed a smaller number of zonings to make PoPW not permissible in those zones.
While this issue is currently confined to a limited number of LGAs, most Councils will be reviewing their LEPs further in 2021 and may adopt similar restrictions as Cumberland City Council. As a result, The Growth Corporation and Property Trust are working together at the Council and Minister for Planning levels to resist the proposed amendments for both new and existing churches. We have been coordinating with other denominations to respond to these challenges.
While we will continue to track and respond to this issue, all parishes should:
- Encourage parishioners to pray that a solution would be reached whereby we can continue to have the flexibility to operate and plan new churches in land use zones where people frequent.
- Have Rectors developing rapport with Councillors so that if similar restrictions are proposed in the future, churches will have a relationship already developed with the local government decision makers so that we can better present our case.