16 February 2024

Plans lodged for church on vacant Rivett block but high-value tree an issue

| Ian Bushnell
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St Athanasius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church

An artist’s impression of the St Athanasius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church proposed to be built in Rivett. Image: Hyper Pace.

Plans have been lodged for a 168-seat church to be built on long-vacant land next to the Rivett shops that will mean the loss of a remnant Red Box eucalypt tree if approved.

The St Athanasius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church acquired the community zoned land from the Suburban Land Agency via a direct sale.

This development application is for the church and car park but a future church hall is also planned.

The 2700 square metre site (Block 23 Section 28) on Bangalay Crescent is adjacent to the Kids Club Childcare Centre and the shops, with another church, the Reformed Church of Canberra, to the rear.

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On the other side of the block is a bike and walking path and the Noah’s Ark Childcare Centre.

Church Treasurer Shibu George told Region in 2021 that the church community consisted of about 50 families who live mainly in the Weston Creek-Molonglo and Woden areas.

At present, the church community rents the Church of Christ building in Lyons.

The contemporary designed church with an entry forecourt and foyer will face Bangalay Crescent with room left in the western end of the block for the planned hall.

A car park is sited in front of the church at the eastern end of the block next to Bangalay Crescent, with a new driveway to be constructed off Rivett Place.

The site plan for the St Athanasius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in Rivett. Image: Hyper Pace.

There are 13 trees on the block, a number of which are regulated, including the remnant Red Box, which has hollows for bird breeding.

It is one of seven trees proposed to be removed.

In pre-DA meetings with the planning authority, the proponent was told this would only be supported if it planted more trees to offset the loss.

The landscape plan shows 21 new trees – 10 deciduous and 11 eucalypts including five Red Box, four more than that proposed to be removed. A line of eucalypts on Bangalay Crescent will screen the car park and church building.

The number of parking spaces proposed is 27, including two for people with disabilities, 15 short of the required 42 but according to the traffic report the rest can be found offsite within 100 metres of the site, including eight on Rivett Place which are underutilised on Sundays.

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The traffic report says that the church will generate about 25 vehicles per hour travelling to services approaching via Bangalay Crescent from Hindmarsh Drive in the north and 10 vehicles per hour approaching via Bangalay Crescent from Streeton Drive from the south, well within the capacity of Bangalay Crescent.

It says there should not be any adverse impacts or safety issues.

The church is an autonomous Oriental Orthodox denomination based in the Indian state of Kerala, and is part of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.

There are also churches in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Comments on the DA are open until 28 February.

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Someone seems to be confused about east and west

Josh Hargense4:08 pm 19 Feb 24

Instead of adding another church that will generally only be used on the weekend, and not by many locals, why not add a few more shops and turn Rivett shops (butcher, fish monger, etc) into a more complete shopping area…

GrumpyGrandpa7:33 pm 19 Feb 24

The question really is, if there were more shops in Rivett, would the locals shop there or still head off to Coolemon Court or Woden?
At least with a Church there, there would be people coming into the area, even if it’s only on a Sunday. (Of course, you’d expect some activity at the Church on other days, but Sunday would be the day that attracted the most people).

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