Church of Scientology new $19m headquarters to be built in Sydney's north

Daily Telegraph, Australia/March 12, 2015

By Nigel Gladstone

THE Church of Scientology will build its new southern hemisphere base at the former National Acoustic Laboratory site in Chatswood.

A regional planning panel approved the project yesterday, with Willoughby Council supportive of the church’s plans for 126 Greville St.

It will be an “Advanced Church” facility, one of five in the world that trains the senior ministers for the churches in the rest of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan.

The 3.5ha of land in West Chatswood cost the church $37 million and it plans to spend another $19 million making it “fit for purpose”.

t will house an administrative centre for up to 290 staff and be a place of public worship, teaching and study for up to 170 parishioners.

All staff will travel to and from the site daily by bus.

Church president Vicki Dunstan said the site had previously been earmarked for 60 apartments.

“I am confident local residents will find our proposal will have far less impact on existing neighbourhood amenity than the previous plans for the site,” she said.

“Our proposal will have no residential accommodation. It will be for administrative functions, ancillary uses and theological studies for parishioners and staff.”

The site was an army rifle range for 70 years before it became the National Acoustic Laboratory and Ultrasonics Institute in 1987.

The new facility will be called the Ideal Advanced Organisation and Continental Base for Australia and the Asiatic region.

Chairman of the International Association of Scientologists David Miscavige spoke about the organisation’s plans to kickstart a “golden age” in Sydney at the centre, in October last year.

At a Freedom Medal ceremony in Sussex, Mr Miscavige revealed the redevelopment plans to an assembly of 7500 members.

“Here, Scientologists from Tasmania to Tokyo will traverse the upper realms of the Bridge to Total Freedom,” the website reported.

A Scientology representative told Willoughby Council on Monday that a one-hour extension to its planned operating hours (seven days a week, from 8.30am to 8.30pm) was an “important issue for the church”.

The council voted to recommend an extension of one hour on a trial basis for six months to the regional planning panel which agreed and approved the new centre with conditions.

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