While the Church of Scientology has been showing off its new eye-popping $57million headquarters on Sydney's north shore in a bid to attract new members, the secretive religion has been quietly working on its former flagship facility.
The secretive religion's former headquarters tucked in Dundas, in western Sydney, which is believed to be used as a punishment camp for members who stray, is receiving its own massive renovation, including a birthing unit, Daily Mail Australia understands.
Scientologists practice 'silent birth' and discourage any words from being used from any person in the delivery room.
It is understood the new unit for expectant mothers is included in the building's overall face lift to accommodate a mix of families and students that call the quiet facility home.
A plan approved by the City of Parramatta states that the renovations will include 'additions to the existing place of public worship including internal reconfiguration, provision of new dormitory.'
The plans show extensive work to the outside of the facility and plumbing but do not depict a birthing unit or new dormitories.
The first application submitted to the city list the price for the renovations at $1,638,627.
The plan was altered and resubmitted again but depicted the estimated price as $0.
Four additional plans have been submitted this year since June for 'alterations and additions,' fire safety upgrades, additional landscaping and 'disabled access upgrades and construction of new external fire stairs'.
The estimated price for all four new applications is around $4.5million.
Vicki Dunstan, the president of the church in Australia, told Daily Mail Australia the improvements were to 'beautify' the building and will include a new gate, landscaping, fresh paint to the inside and upgrades to bathroom facilities.
She confirmed members of the church live there and said many of them are Ministers or Ministers in training for the religion.
Members from overseas can also stay there when they visit, she said.
Ms Dunstan would not say if a birthing unit or additional dorms are included in the renovations, or how much it would cost.
'The Dundas facility used to house administrative offices, as well as living spaces. Now that the administrative has moved to the Chatswood building, we are renovating the existing building,' she said.
A handful of people were seen wandering around the property, which was littered with mounds of dirt and construction materials with a broken delivery sign in the front that read 'Church of Scientology.'
A young girl, no older than eight, was seen playing in the dusty yard by herself before being joined by an older man who led her around by her hand. Two women who appeared to be in their 40s or 50s, one dressed in tailored pant suit, were also seen walking onto the property.
A woman who has lived across the street from the church headquarters for 16 years said she sees a large bus coming and going from several times a day and often until 3am.
'I think they're going to the city,' she said, adding that the majority of people being transported seem to be of Asian appearance.
Another neighbour, who lives nearby with his newborn daughter, said he hasn't had an problems with the people living in the building because they are quiet but the buses coming and going 'every 30 minutes are irritating.'
In 2013, ABC reported that the Church of Scientology had been focusing on recruiting new members and staff in Taiwan and was bringing many of them to Dundas.
Insiders said that at least 50 percent of Scientology's staff in Sydney are from Taiwan.
Former Hack host Steven Cannane called the Dundas headquarters a 'penal colony' in his new book Fair Game, and claimed the members sent to the facility were isolated and forced to perform manual labour, while eating 'slops' and leftovers from a nearby market, according to ABC.
The church was accused of holding a woman named Alice Wu hostage in an isolation room in the building in 2012 after a mental breakdown, according to ABC.
Ms Wu's family claim she was trying to escape when she smashed the widow and injured her hand but the church denied the allegations.
Her family said the ordeal began when Ms Wu asked to leave but a statement from the church offered to ABC said Ms Wu had simply come down with the flu, had become delusory and cut her hand.
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