The Baptist church in Torquay, Torquay Christian Fellowship (TCF), celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2008. During that year the leadership and congregation of TCF considered the need, and explored the possibility of how to best facilitate the life of the church over the next 25 years and beyond. Through church meetings and surveys it was obvious that in trying to meet the challenges and calling of the future, the present location and buildings of TCF would hinder, rather than facilitate, ministry.
Torquay as a community and TCF as a congregation, have both experienced significant numerical growth, and all forecasts are that this will continue for the next 20 to 30 years and beyond.
Over this period TCF has also identified a strong community need for childcare/daycare. The opportunity this presents for community involvement and service have led TCF leadership to plan to include a childcare facility as part of any future relocation of TCF (referred to later in this document as TeLC – Torquay early Learning & Care).
In the last 3 years a number of possible sites have been explored, though none ultimately proved suitable or affordable. In February 2011 we became aware of a very suitable site, which includes an existing useable building, that was to come to the market.
The Surfcoast Shire office site at 25 Grossmans Rd, Torquay, of just under 3 hectares with a 1300m2 office building and a number of demountables, is for sale by Expression of Interest.
The Shire is constructing a new civic precinct elsewhere in Torquay and plans to vacate Grossmans Rd in November this year. The previous State government had planned to purchase the site to add High School capacity to the adjoining Torquay Primary School, but the new State Government has cancelled those plans and is pursuing a greenfields school site near the new civic precinct.
Why the need to relocate?
It would be nice to be in a position of taking a small step to increase our building space, or even to consider maintaining the status-quo. However we are unable to do that. The status-quo is not stable. Our facility is in a residential area, on 1300m2 total land size with only 8 effective off street carparks. Residential homes abut our fenceline which is only a few metres from either side of the building.
We are in one of the narrowest streets in ‘old Torquay’ and during services and events we have cars parked on both sides of the street and nature strips, reducing traffic flow to a single lane in the middle of the road. Older homes in our street are being demolished and re-developed with 2 or 3 dwellings where previously there was one, and the current construction of townhouses on what was previously vacant land along the opposite side of 35 Boston Rd will reduce our parking capacity by up to half in a matter of 1-2 years.
The traffic and access issues preclude multiple morning services, and evening services are not possible due to noise constraints. Complaints have been made in the past and we have been informed by authorities that under our existing permit noise complaints would be upheld and services disallowed.
The proposed re-location site.
The former Shire Offices and surrounding land at 25 Grossmans Rd – Torquay.
What makes 25 Grossmans Rd such a good option?
Suitably sized and zoned land is extremely difficult to come by in Torquay. Most new land releases are zoned R1 and quickly subdivided into small house blocks and sold for the highest possible price. Demand in Torquay for such land is very high. It is unlikely such a large, well placed, appropriately zoned, and already established site would ever again come to market in Torquay.
The site is highly visible and accessible. It is located adjacent to the current public school (Prep to Yr-9) and only a few hundred meters from the local Catholic Primary School. The entrance is only 200 metres off the Surfcoast highway (Great Ocean Rd) and most Torquay families drive past the entrance each school day.
As the future expansion of Torquay proceeds the site will find itself very much in the geographic centre of the towns population.
The zoning is ideal for all the purposes intended in our EOI. A place of worship is specifically listed in the EOI documentation as a suitable use (See the following paragraph taken from the EOI paperwork).
Place of worship A place of worship is a section 2 use (permit required) under the current zone. A place of worship would align with the “public and community services and facilities” purpose of the schedule, and could be designed to compliment the surrounding uses. The existing main office building could be reconfigured to accommodate such a use and ample car parking could be provided on-site.
The current zoning also may serve to deter other interested parties wanting to develop as commercial or residential, and also will serve to put pressure on the council to ensure any future use is in line with the zone’s purpose, which is stated in the EOI as being:
To provide for the use and development of the land for public and community services and facilities.
There are no other areas of such size in the existing Torquay boundaries. To secure this site would accommodate the long term future of the church offering versatility and opportunity that would otherwise be unavailable.
The existing building is suitable for renovation. It has many rooms useable as-is, and is constructed (clear span) in a manner that a large area can be cleared to use for an auditorium. Its exterior architecture even already resembles some church designs!
Not having to build from scratch saves considerably on construction costs and uncertainty – as well as drastically reducing the time before which the building could be used for services.
The refurbishment of an existing building also allows for the use of internal labour and skills provided by those tradesman and builders, including volunteers, that are part of the congregation more easily than would be the case on a new construction.
There are over 700m2 of demountable buildings also available as part of the EOI. Many of these would be useable as additional space/youth rooms etc.
The site already has kerbed and bitumed access roads and carparking for 56 cars, with a gravel car park able to accommodate an additional 50 cars. there is also provision of angle parking on Grossmans Rd for 65 cars (unused on Sundays). The cost of providing and surfacing carparks can be a major part of any construction project. That sufficient parking is already on-site and surfaced is a huge bonus.
SUITABILITY for TeLC
The site also lends itself to the construction and operation of TeLC. It is flat and has service provision in place. The area is a hub of children’s service activity already and the zoning allows for a child care centre.
It is located close to the major employers within the town, and also on the ‘route of travel’ of much of the population as they go from their homes to their place of work in Geelong or beyond.
The Expression of Interest Process
At the January council meeting the Shire announced their intention to seek Expressions of Interest. Since then we have been investigating our options and doing our planning/modeling while awaiting the official EOI release. The official EOI paperwork was made available in mid May. Interested parties must submit an EOI by June 30th containing their offered price, intended use, and other particulars. Council will then meet to decide based on a combination of factors, (price, zoning, community benefit, capacity to pay) which EOI they will pursue.
During 2011 with the support of the Baptist Union of Victoria, Torquay Christian Fellowship was the successful EOI and subsequently negotiated to buy a 1.61Ha portion of the site including the former office building and most of the demountables.
The 35 Boston Rd site was sold just prior to Christmas 2011 and services moved to the new site in April 2012.