We might be in lockdown, but work on some projects still continues. That also includes consideration of what will happen to the tennis court lands. Before lockdown the wardens and I met a developer who is working with the Heathcote – Mt Pleasant Anglican Parish to develop land adjacent to St Mary’s in Heathcote. As a result of our meeting the developer will draw up a concept for a residential development of the site at no charge. This concept plan is for an area that includes the current tennis courts and the vicarage site, as well as the area in between. It would include provision for a new vicarage alongside the other houses and be sympathetic to the character of the area. It would not squeeze in the most units possible, but attempt to strike a balance. I hope that this concept can be presented to the vestry and also the parish as a whole.
From there the parish would have several options: we could work in partnership with this developer, who comes recommended; we could seek expressions of interest from several developers for the land; we could seek a partnership with another organisation to develop the land; or we can still go the traditional way of selling the land outright. There are a few more options, but these are the main ones. It depends on the objectives we want to achieve and the extent to which we feel the need to follow a traditional market model. Once we have seen the concept, I hope that the parish and vestry together with the Church Property Trustees (CPT) can decide on how to proceed.
If we were to work with the developer, a project steering group would be set up with the involvement of CPT. The matters important to the Parish could be included in the development. Some land would be retained (at least the new vicarage); some land would be sold. How much land were to be retained would depend on parish objectives. The developer is also open to including some of the innovative tenure models mentioned by Greer O’Donnell in our meeting in July. At the end of the planning process we could still decide to sell land on the open market, but that would probably mean paying for some of the work done.
In the meantime we are working to define the boundaries of the land. A neighbour has also approached us looking to buy a sliver of land to align the legal boundary with the present fence line.
There is a lot to think about, but I feel it can be very exciting and invigorating and has the potential to bring some life to the area near the church. I thought I’ll let you know now, so that you can think and pray about these things and raise any concerns or ideas with me or any vestry member.