The Population Challenge
Greater Sydney’s population is currently 5.3 million people. In 20 years, it is projected to increase by 800,000 people to 6.1 million. In the 20 years following that, Sydney’s population is modelled to grow by a further 2.4 million to a 2061 population of 8.5 million people. That’s an average of 80,000 new people every year for the next 40 years. With most of Sydney’s growth to occur in the north-west growth corridor, the south-west growth corridor and the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.
Significantly, 2056 is set to be the year when 50% of Sydney’s population live west of Parramatta. Approximately 70% of the Dioceses’ property assets are currently located to the east of Parramatta. Of greater concern is the lack of Diocesen owned land and buildings in the projected high-growth areas of Western Sydney. Additionally, the most recent Census and our own modelling highlights that Greater Sydney’s population (all age-brackets) is significantly less likely to connect with Anglicanism than it was 5 years ago. Currently, only 1.5% of people in Greater Sydney regularly attend an Anglican Church.
Under God, this brings the Diocese to a critical moment to pause and consider:
- different ways of reaching into the local community with the unchanging Gospel
- how we will fund and develop new churches in high-growth areas.
The most effective time to purchase land is prior to the Government rezoning to residential or commercial land-use zones. Purchasing land at today’s prices presents a major funding challenge. The greater cost will come from failing to act now and would leave the next generation with a funding task that would be a significant burden. NCNC and Growth Corporation have purchased strategic church sites in Marsden Park, Riverstone, and Bradfield but there is now a time-lag while we wait to secure the funds needed to enable construction. We also intends to acquire land in many other locations within the growth corridors and the Western Sydney Aerotropolis. NCNC and Growth Corporation are also prioritising a land purchase for the Anglican Indigenous Peoples Ministry Committee (SAIMPC).
What’s a church worth
Each land purchase typically costs about $4.5 million. In the past decade, construction has cost about $5.5M at each site. Consultant fees, government fees and our own labour costs add a further $1.5M. Therefore, a suburban church hub site costs approximately $11.5M. This typically results in a funding gap of $6.15 million per project if we were to start construction of a new church each year. This means we have to wait longer to save for new projects and are falling behind the rapid population growth in Western Sydney.
There are two ways to meet the fundraising challenge. We must both:
- raise more money and
- work to reduce the costs of church construction
In terms of reducing the cost of church buildings, we are working with architects and construction contractors to develop innovative, high-quality but lower cost construction methods. Without reducing the cost of church buildings, we have estimated that to purchase land and build in the most pressing Greenfield areas will cost about $100M (in today’s dollars), over the next 10 or so years.
This is a very daunting number but with God’s help, all things are possible. We would really appreciate your prayers and partnership as we face this challenge.
If you would like to partner with New Churches for New Communities and Growth Corporation in this exciting future, follow the link below.