Anglicans to consider sale of Bishopscourt

PRIME PROPERTY: Bishopscourt’s size and prestigious location could see it   fetch $4million.  Picture: Darren Pateman
PRIME PROPERTY: Bishopscourt’s size and prestigious location could see it fetch $4million. Picture: Darren Pateman

THE Anglican church will discuss the possible sale of Bishopscourt next week, effectively putting the largest residential block in central Newcastle on the  market.

Bishopscourt, a 4100-square-metre estate on Brown Street between Church and Tyrrell streets on The Hill, has traditionally housed the city’s Anglican bishop.

That arrangement changed in 2013 when new bishop Greg Thompson and his wife decided it was too grand and costly a residence to maintain, and opted to lease a three-bedroom apartment at Merewether.

Built in 1929, Bishopscourt has been leased to a local family since Bishop Thompson’s move, but the lease has expired and the diocese has told the tenants to move out.

A spokesperson for the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle confirmed that the Diocesan Council would  ‘‘give consideration to the possible sale of Bishopscourt’’ when it meets on February 26. It will also consider ‘‘the purchase or development of another property’’ to house the bishop.

Somewhat oddly, the house is not heritage listed but the driveway, grounds and garden have a local heritage listing. 

The house, therefore, could be bulldozed to make way for a new development.

Any proceeds of a sale would not go towards the ambitious extension and refurbishment plans of Christ Church Cathedral which were revealed by the Newcastle Herald last Saturday, with the spokesperson saying ‘‘the residence is not a parish property’’ and ‘‘matters regarding Bishopscourt are separate to those of Christ Church Cathedral’’.

She also rejected suggestions that a sale had anything to do with the diocese’s strained financial situation.

Newcastle real estate agents said the value of such a site was hard to determine.

Managing director of Robinson Property, Guy Robinson, said Bishopscourt was well known for its well-established grounds and views that made it ‘‘a truly magnificent residence’’.

‘‘I would conservatively suggest this residence could test the $4million mark on sheer land size and location,’’ Mr Robinson said.

‘‘Recent sales [in that area] have been between $2million and $2.55million, but none of those have the size of grounds offered by Bishopscourt.’’

He said the record price for a home on The Hill was Jesmond House which fetched $7million  in 2008. The second highest was the neighbouring Woodlands, which sold for $3.7million in 2011. One of the two penthouses at nearby Aventine sold for $2.15million in 2013.

When he decided against moving into Bishopscourt, Bishop Thompson said the cost of maintaining  the property topped $75,000 a year.