Katoomba Christian Convention to undergo major refurbishment

Time to rebuild: An artist's impression of the proposed new auditorium at Katoomba Christian Convention on Cliff Drive near Scenic World.
Time to rebuild: An artist's impression of the proposed new auditorium at Katoomba Christian Convention on Cliff Drive near Scenic World.

In one of the largest developments ever seen in the Mountains, Katoomba Christian Convention has plans for a $64 million rebuild on its premises at Cliff Drive.

Plans for the major redevelopment are now on public display with council.

They call for the demolition of several existing buildings and building of a new auditorium for public worship, a 500-seat dining hall, six eco-lodges and three eco-chalets to accommodate 390 people, a new reception building, bookshop and cafe.

Proposed dining, administration and cafe buildings near the corner of Cliff Drive and Violet Street.

Proposed dining, administration and cafe buildings near the corner of Cliff Drive and Violet Street.

The first phase of the development would be a $25 million replacement of the 2100-seat auditorium with a 3500-seat structure, as well as a new bookshop, toilet facilities and seven meeting rooms.

KCC has been at the site next to Scenic World since the 1950s.

Executive director Jonathan Dykes said the upgrade was needed to bring the “tired”’ facilities up to standard and to meet visitor expectation.

“Things have been adapted and updated as finances and resources have allowed, but we can only stretch that so far for so long.’’

Works conducted over the years to ensure standards compliance, including asbestos removal, had reduced the capacity of the site yet still did not deliver accessible accommodation for people with a disability, he said.

Mr Dykes said the new facilities had been designed to be respectful of the location and its significant environmental values. 

KCC executive director Jonathan Dykes and Shelley Taylor, KCC operations manager (functions). Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

KCC executive director Jonathan Dykes and Shelley Taylor, KCC operations manager (functions). Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

The new auditorium would be re-orientated to funnel noise away from neighbours. And he believed the development would lessen the impact on surrounding residents because it would keep all activities in one place, thus reducing traffic movements to and from the site.

The DA, which gives the estimated total cost at $63.6 million, said the new buildings would not interfere with views at popular lookouts nearby. And while some trees would have to be removed for construction, more than 80 per cent of the site would remain undeveloped.

KCC is the largest conference venue in the Mountains. It was also been used as a staging base for emergency services and community information meetings during the 2013 bushfires.

Katoomba Christian Convention is a not-for-profit and interdenominational, Bible-preaching ministry that relies on volunteers, donations and the financial support of visiting delegates.

It started in Katoomba in 1903 as an informal gathering of Christians in a house overlooking Echo Point. By the 1930s, 800 people were attending to sing hymns and listen to guest speakers and Bible readings.

Eventually they grew out of the site, moving briefly to another in Forster Road before settling at their current site in the 1950s.

KCC held seven worship events last year, including the Easter Convention which was attended by 3100 people.

The upgrade could see the centre made available to secular not-for-profit organisations like schools or to groups like the Ultra Trail Australia running event, although its main purpose would remain a place of worship.

The DA is on public exhibition until April 11. It will then go to the Sydney Western City Planning Panel, rather than council, because of the size of the development.