Frequently Asked Questions

Ploughmans Lane Final Plans for DA

Are the plans for the OEC Ministry Centre at Ploughman’s Lane now finalized?

At the special general meeting held on 17th September 2017, OEC partners voted in favour of submitting our revised building plans to Council as part of the DA.

Back in March 2017 we received a budget estimate on our draft building plans that was nearly 40% over budget. Since then our plans have been revised and we have met with a number of builders to ask them to assist with modifications and more accurate quotes. As a result, our building plans have been altered and a small reduction in the size of the auditorium and breakout space has occurred. We will continue to use the expertise of a builder to assist Geolyse, our architect, to design, build and fit-out the building to budget. In order to submit our DA to Council we have finalised the building plans to the extent required for Council consideration however further minor alterations and cost saving measures can be made after the DA is approved. Our budget for the entire project is $3.7M including building, all roadwork and design fees.

Click here
for our final plans which will be submitted with our DA

Questions & responses in relation to the plans:

Do we have enough classrooms and are they big enough?

God willing we won’t have enough classrooms in the near future but the constraints of a $3.5m budget mean that we need to start with 3 classrooms and a crèche room. The plans allow for additional classrooms to be added with minimal disruption and the garage and granny flat in the existing house can both be converted to additional classroom space as an interim measure.

The size of the classrooms and crèche have been increased by 10-15% on the original plans and there is a retractable acoustic wall between each of the 3 classrooms for larger Kids Church activities.

Is the crying room big enough for mums with prams? What is the viewing like? Can you make crying room doors extra wide to easily fit prams?

Babies are welcome in the auditorium. The crying room is intended to be for babies that are crying and not as an automatic or expected alternative to sitting in the auditorium. Consequently the size of the crying room has not changed but it has been moved and reshaped to improve visibility and access. There are no direct doors from the crying room to the auditorium, rather access to the crying room is via the break out space.

The foyer can also act as another crying room and the breakout space can also be used (if not being used for another purpose at the time), since there will be speakers into the breakout space which can be turned on to allow people in there to hear the auditorium speaker if required.

This revised plan has reduced the length of the retractable wall between the auditorium and the breakout space, with an added bonus of saving approximately $12,000.

To enhance versatility for playgroups, should there be access to a playground from the crèche room?

An external door has been added to the crèche room to allow direct access to the outside courtyard. Budget constraints do not currently allow for construction of a playground. Alternative methods of funding a playground will be investigated as soon as the building is constructed.

Is the kitchen large enough and for safety reasons should the servery be moved away from the high traffic area in the corner of the breakout space?

The location of the servery has not changed from the original plan as it is the only part of the kitchen area that provides wide access to both the breakout space and the courtyard outside. Any re-location of the server caused more problems than it solved. However to redirect traffic coming down the corridor from the crèche, crying room and classrooms a Perspex screen will be placed at right angles to the server.

The size of the kitchen has been increased by 15% on the original plans and an external door to the courtyard has been added.

Is there sufficient storage space?

There are two significant storage spaces at the front of the main auditorium (which also improves acoustics) and an additional storage space opening to the break out space. Storage in classrooms will be considered when plans for internal fit-out are further scrutinized and will probably include a long bench with storage underneath.

Do we have sufficient toilets and should there be an airlock entry for toilets?

The 3 male cubicles and 6 female cubicles as well as an accessible toilet/nappy change room exceed planning requirements for a building of this size and nature. In response to feedback, plans have been adjusted to incorporate a more discrete entry for both male and female cubicles.

Why is the foyer ‘cut in’ and is there enough space for congregations coming and going?

The updated plans have seen the foyer in the south eastern corner decreased in size and now squared into the building and accompanied by a covered loading/drop off bay with the access ramp moved to the southern side of the building.

Given our budget constraints should the land at the eastern end of the property, which incorporates the dam and will be required by the Council for their southern feeder road, be sold now rather than waiting many years for a higher offer? Should the dam be fenced off?

In light of our overall funding costs we are actively investigating the merits of selling this portion of land now for the lower amount the Council has offered against waiting for a higher price. We will negotiate with the Council on this issue when we submit our development application (DA).

The safety issues with the dam are acknowledged and will be considered in the development of the DA. We think a combined approach, addressing the safety issues with the car park and the dam, to fence the outdoor play area between the ministry centre and the existing building, may be the most practical solution, since this also prevents young children from walking into the car park.

Is the number of car parking spaces sufficient for two concurrent services? Why have 3 separate carparks, will it increase congestion, particularly in the western carpark if it is full? Could an additional carpark be added to the north of the buildings?

As mentioned above, decisions about the site plan, including the layout of the car park(s), have yet to be finalised. The number of car spaces is sufficient for current attendance at our two morning services but God willing will not be in the near future. As budget allows, additional car parking spaces will be added and in the short term overflow parking on the grass can be arranged.

Finance and Fundraising

How much has been spent on the property project to date and what on?

In relation to both the Cinema and Ploughman’s Lane properties the just over $2.0m in property giving received to 31 December 2015 (since we opened property giving in 2007) has been committed as follows:

  • 72.6% ($1.51m) devoted to paying down the loans on both properties.
  • 11.6% ($237k) on net interest for loans (that is interest paid less rent we have received for the Ploughman’s Lane property)
  • 7.3% ($149k) to consultants i.e. architects, engineers, quantity surveyors etc
  • 4.2% ($86k) on stamp duty
  • 2.6% ($53k) to other development fees (DAs, loan establishment, legal fees, pre-purchase assessments etc)
  • 1.8% ($36k) on running costs (power, insurance)

Although lower than the projected start-up figure for the Cinema, $2m is still a significant amount to raise before we could begin construction at Ploughman’s Lane. This is why we are planning to reduce the scale and some aspects of the plans that have been costed to bring that start up figure down (refer ‘Other Options’ section for more comment). There may be some external funding opportunities once we are committed to our plans but we are not relying on them.

Why are funding institutions only likely to lend a maximum of 30% of the build cost?

Unfortunately banks only loan against the value of the best alternate use of a building. The market for alternate use of church buildings, certainly of the size we are talking about, is quite limited. We had a detailed commercial valuation done on our cinema plans that indicated a minimal additional value for our planned spending on it. This has translated to a scenario in which the bank is likely to lend a maximum of 30% of the build cost. Lenders may see even less alternate use value in a church building at Ploughman’s Lane but we can borrow against the existing land and house on the site.

Although more ministry minded lenders may be lend a higher percentage the challenge is that we won’t know for certain until we go through the formal loan application process but we can’t do that unless we have formal plans locked in.

What are the projected ongoing costs once a constructed building is operational?

Running costs will depend on what scale of project we finally decide to go with but in our cash flow projections we used a rule of thumb for annual running costs (heating, cooling, maintenance, water, cleaning, insurance etc) of 2.25% of the building value.

It’s worth noting that in 2016, assuming no office move to the cinema, would have paid $50k to rent all of its venues (Bowen Public School, OPS, Orange Anglican Grammar School, Lord’s Place office, Church of Christ, Senior Citizens Centre) so the running costs on our building would be largely offset by the rent we would save.

  1. In relation to council rates we expect to be exempt as a house of worship.
  2. In relation to fit out, services (electrical, plumbing etc) are included in the build price. As a guide to additional costs, EV Church estimate that current costs for their spending on AV equipment and on furniture (assuming 350 chairs) for their first 1,500 square metre building (one third larger than our proposed 1,000 square metre building) would be around $75k and $42k respectively. It is also worth noting that OEC’s current AV equipment, which is still relatively new, can be utilised in the new building.
  3. In relation to interest, this will be entirely dependent on how much we will be able to borrow (refer above question). On current property giving of $300k per year, an annual interest rate of 7.5% (which is pretty high by current standards) and a loan of say $1.15m, our annual average interest bill would be $49k. Total annual repayments (principal and interest) would be $164k.

Is the FourFour10 strategy really working?

It’s worth noting that the FourFour10 strategy was to demonstrate that funding our own building and ongoing ministry was possible and was used as a guide to set our ministry budget. It was never intended to be a rule for what each individual member of OEC should be giving. Many of us can and do give more than 4% of our income to both OEC ministry and property, for others that is too much. The key is equal sacrifice.

Praise God that in the 4 years since it began our ministry giving has essentially hit 4% of our estimated collective giving capacity each year however our property giving has come in at less than that—in 2015 it was around 2.3% of our collective income. Although this is disappointing on one level it is not surprising given the uncertainty over the building project. Praise God that despite this uncertainty more than $330k was given to property in 2015 and $1.25m has been given since we launched the FourFour10 strategy four years ago.

Going forward the FourFour10 strategy will remain in the background but once we settle on a project we will move to launching a start-up fund which will need to be in addition to any ongoing giving to property. We realise that the start-up fund (currently projected to be $2.0m at PL) will be a large challenge which is why, we are working to reduce the scale of the initial project. We can praise God that current ongoing giving to property will be more than adequate to service and repay a building loan in 10 years.

What can we do as a congregation?

Please pray!

  • That we would have a building that would be helpful in our job of proclaiming the gospel in Orange and elsewhere.
  • For wisdom and good information for the building committee.
  • For the partners as they consider and vote on our building project.
  • For maintained unity in the gospel, even as many of us will have very different ideas on the way forward for our building project.

The “Where to from here?” Publication

The document written & presented by Paul Owens in February titled “Where to From Here” is available to download from the following link: B4FFeb2016final

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