St John's Anglican Church Minister Tony Galea has told residents their fears a housing development will be built beside the Camden church are unfounded.
Reports on social media this week had residents in a frenzy as rumours swirled about a medium density development set for the church land.
Reverend Galea said at this stage there was no potential buyer for the land.
“We’ve seen a lot of people saying things on the net but they are wrong,” he said.
“If the land is sold, what is built there is nothing to do with us, whoever buys the land decides what to build and then it is up to council [to approve or reject].”
The proposed grounds for sale include more than 1.2 hectares of vacant land along Menangle Road, the rectory (currently being leased out for additional income) on the corner of Menangle Road and Forest Crescent, and the property at 43 Alpha Road, which backs onto the vacant land.
Rev Galea said the parish council was still reviewing the objections which were submitted to the diocese last year.
He said they took great care considering each submission.
“Being good stewards of the land, we have a duty to be responsible,” he said.
“The sale ordinance only lasts three years so a sale may never happen.”
Rev Galea said the church would object to any “unsavoury” development on the site but would not necessarily object to residential development.
“It depends on what sort of housing is proposed,” he said.
“There are covenants on the land so whoever buys it would have to know all of that.”
Rev Galea said concerned residents could meet with him to discuss the potential land sale.
“I can understand the emotional ties that people have with the land,” he said.
“People are welcome to speak with me about it.”
St John’s Anglican Church, built in the 1840s and located at the top of Menangle Street, is arguably Camden’s most historic building.
Camden Resident Action Group president Glenda Davies said a residential development on the land would be inappropriate.
“It’s a heritage precinct and I can’t see how housing on that site would conserve and not detract from a historical site,” she said.
“For residents on Alpha and Menangle Roads it would increase traffic quite considerably.
“Originally, the church had five or six acres of land around it and this is all that is left.”
A Camden Council spokeswoman said the church land was listed as a site of heritage significance.
“Any application must be considered by council and must have regard to the heritage controls in the Camden Local Environment Plan, and heritage provisions in the Development Control Plans and a Conservation Management Plan,” she said.
“Any development application must be sensitive to the heritage significance of the site and the wider conservation area and view corridors to and from the site.”