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Sydney-based consultancy Urban Bio is working with Churches Housing to identify as many church sites as possible that could be used for social and affordable rental housing.
As part of this project, Urban Bio senior consultant Steve Bushby spoke at CHi’s annual general meeting last month.
Bushby said that a large challenge for future re-use is the ‘narrow range of usage allowed for places of worship’.
Broadening this understanding ‘is a journey we have to take governments – of all levels – on’, he told the meeting.
Another challenge in mapping accurately, Bushby said, is that some denominations do not have centralised land-holdings registers. This means that buildings such as schools, manses, halls or child care may not be labelled as ‘place of worship’ and so will not be counted as church land.
The site-mapping process includes:
- painting a picture of faith-based land holdings across NSW using digital planning tools
- mapping places of worship, matching this map layer to additional property specific datasets
- understanding land parcel size and zoning to gauge potential alternative uses of a site
- identifying potential heritage restrictions on a site by site basis
- measuring proximity metrics, distance to train stations, bus stops, super markets etc.
- assessing community demographics to gauge suitability for affordable housing, age care or childcare
- gauging proximity to childcare or age care facilities