Approval given for new Coptic Orthodox Church on former Swane's Nursery site at Sylvania

A church will be built on the site of a former garden nursery at Sylvania.

St Luke's Coptic Orthodox Church has received development approval to construct a church building and refurbish an existing dwelling on the Port Hacking Road property, which was once occupied by Swane's Nursery and, more recently, Shire Market Trade Garden.

The church was holding Sunday services in the hall at Sylvania Public School until COVID-19 intervened, and they will resume on July 26.

In approving the $2.3 million development application (DA), Sutherland Shire Council placed a temporary limit on the number of worshippers who can attend the new church because of insufficient parking.

"The maximum number of parishioners / people permitted to attend the church service on Sundays shall be 112 people," the council's letter of approval stated.

"This restriction shall be reviewed on formalising the use of the area within the road reserve fronting the site for parking by the church with council's Traffic Division in consultation with Sutherland Shire Council Property Division."

Parish Priest Father Daniel Fanous said approval of the DA was "incredible news".

"It gives us a chance to put down some roots and serve the local community," he said.

Fr Fanous said the church, which started in 2018, was very multicultural, unlike other churches in the Orthodox tradition, which tended to be ethnic based because of where they started.

"Our mission is to worship Christ in the Orthodox tradition while making the church available for everyone in the local community.

The project is not connected with Coptic Orthodox Church plans for a new archdiocese headquarters at Caringbah, which had to be scaled back and three quarters of the land sold off in 2019.

The DA for the Sylvania project said the church building would have 168 seats, mother's room, cry room and book stall room, entry foyer and disabled WC at ground level and church storage at first floor.

There would also a covered outdoor seating / dining area, cafe with communal kitchen for serving tea / meals after prayers, and toilet facilities.

The application proposed 21 on-site car parking spaces and an additional seven spaces along the Port Hacking Road frontage to its eastern side outside of clearway hours.

A total of 11 submissions objecting to the proposal were received from nearby residents, mostly in Shoalhaven Road, at the rear of the site, where a small pedestrian gate will be located.

The residents said this would lead to parking problems in the back street.

The council assessment officer's report said additional parking may occur during mass and events.

"This is a public road and council's engineers have raised no concern with this aspect," the report said.

The report concluded, "The application will not result in any significant impact on the environment or the amenity of nearby residents".

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