Evangelical church concerned hours will restrict services

ORANGE Evangelical Church has been granted permission to operate from Ploughmans Lane, but whether it gets to extend its operating hours will have to wait another three months. 

Orange City Council approved the $3 million complex on the corner of Cargo Road, including a 347-seat auditorium, classrooms, a creche, kitchen, cafe and 112 parking spaces, on Tuesday night.

But it was on the condition opening hours were limited to 8am-7pm on Monday to Thursday, 8am-10pm on Friday and Saturday and 9am-7pm on Sunday to minimise the impact on neighbours.

Neighbouring resident Geoff Errie argued a 10pm finish should mean all users should vacate by that time.

“I’d like to see that when the lights are out, no one else is there,” he said.

“It is a residential area, there will be more residential around it – on the west, eight or nine blocks will face onto this development.”

However, church assistant minister Paul Owens said they should be extended to midnight on Saturday nights. 

“At the moment, my concerns on the restrictions of operating hours would mean that we’re unable to use the facility between a Sunday and a Thursday at nighttime, there would be no evenings,” he said. 

“Clearly our Sunday use is the big time when we have our large gatherings, we’d be asking consideration would be given to amending that … to 10pm on those nights.”

Traffic will access the property from a freshly-built intersection on Cargo Road on the western side of the property, while the property’s existing cottage will be converted into offices and an outdoor play area.

The dams will be filled in. 

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On development services director David Waddell’s recommendation, councillors kept the hours in the report pending a commissioning report from the church within three months of operations starting.

After the meeting, Mr Owens said he looked forward to establishing a home for the church.

“It’s a significant step – we’ve been around for 20 years and we’ve been using school halls for all that time,” he said.

“It means we can centralise what we do and all the families can have some certainty about where we’re going to meet and when.”

Mr Owens said the church was awaiting settlement on the former Australia Cinema in Lords Place – the sale and further fundraising will cover construction and Mr Owens estimated building would start within the next year or two. 

He said while the hours remained a concern, he was still in talks with Mr Errie and the council.

“We want to be a good neighbour, it’s very high on our list of priorities,” he said.

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