New home for worshippers

By Kyra Gillespie

Council have thrown their support behind plans for a new place of worship in Pakenham.

Casey Baptist Church was handed the tick of approval by council at their September Town Planning meeting to set up in Pakenham’s South East Business Park on Monday 3 September.

The successful planning permit, earmarked for Tango Circuit alongside other factory businesses like Lifters HQ and Clark’s Blinds and Screens, brings the number of churches in the municipality to 12.

The Christian organisation received only two objections, compared to the 24 that vied to stunt the development of a Sikh Temple in the municipality earlier this year.

The religious site will operate from Tuesdays through to Sunday evenings, and will be used for worship and other associated functions including small community gatherings and a youth group.

Casey Baptist Church Pastor Phil Scamp said the group had been renting for a number of years, and had finally decided to find a place to permanently call home.

“We had been renting in Narre Warren for 22 years and wanted a place to call our own,” he said.

“Ideally we would have bought in Narre Warren because we have some attenders from as far as Hampton and Moorooduc.

“But we’ve made the move out to Pakenham and hope that most of them come with us.”

The congregation leader said they have a big setup job ahead.

“Right now we’ve just got a big concrete shell.

“We have to wait 28 days for objectors to have their say, and after that we’ll get started on the heating and cooling, flooring and toilets.

“We’d love to open this side of Christmas, but there’s so much to do it might not be until next year.”

The works could cost up to $100,000 commercially, but the church is hoping to cut cost by doing most of the work themselves.

“We’ve got a bit left in the building account, but once that’s exhausted we’ll have to turn to fundraising.”

Mr Scamp described the church as “more serious and fundamentalist” than contemporary.

Around 80 patrons are expected to attend their Sunday morning services and 15 on any other day of the week.

There are only eight allocated car spaces at the site, an issue highlighted by one of the two objectors to the development.

Even when the car spaces of surrounding businesses are factored in, there will still be a shortfall of 16 spaces for the Sunday services.

Council have dismissed the protests, saying it’s a shortcoming that could be “easily” overlooked.

“On the weekend and in particular on Sundays, car parking demand is low,” the planning report reads.

“Consequently there would be very little demand for the visitor spaces.

“As it is considered that the car parking requirements of the place of worship can be readily accommodated without impacting other uses in the area.”

A neighbouring business also shared the same relaxed approach.

“We’re never open on Sundays so it doesn’t bother us at all,” Clark’s Blinds and Screens owner Luke Vandeligt said.

“It’s pretty tight parking out there at the best of times, but they said they won’t have many people here throughout the week anyway.

“We told them they are welcome to have free reign of our carpark.”

The warehouse has a total floor area of 379 square metres including 150 metres at mezzanine level.