With the approved demolition of the Coptic Church at Sydenham imminent, Australian Coptic Heritage and Community Services Director, Jacqueline Elassal, and former Marrickville Councillor, Peter Olive, are questioning Marrickville Council’s Heritage priorities.
Former Councillor Olive said, “Marrickville Council is demolishing a heritage church while at the same time giving heritage protection to the guttering in the streets surrounding the church. This is an astonishing misplacement of priorities. How can the gutter have a higher worth than the church building?”
Jacqueline Elassal said, “Preserving the surrounding guttering but not the church building is an insulting slur on the Coptic community. It shows how poorly the council regards our community. Most thinking people would agree that saving the building would be more important than saving the street gutters. Marrickville Council will be a laughing stock when people realise where its priorities are.”
“There have been a number of consultations and processes undertaken to find a use for the Coptic Church. But the Council has become tangled up in its own bureaucratic processes and, faced with these difficulties, has become wilful in not finding a solution,” she said.
Former Councillor Olive said, “Council should be talking to the Federal Government with whom Council made a deal to take over the Church in 1998. That deal compelled council not to sell the property for 25 years. This means that anyone wanting to invest in the property cannot have freehold title and would be effectively pouringmoney into a Council property.”
“Further, Council’s own planning rules mean that any potential investor can’t make any money out of the building. Marrickville Council should be negotiating with the Federal Government to alter the deal and move to amend its own planning policies so that there is a realistic chance the church building can be reused,” he said.
Director, Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services Ltd
0431 155 090
Former Marrickville Councillor
0401 719 148
Jacqueline Elassal and Peter Olive with Coptic Church and Heritage Gutters