Anglican Diocese to redevelop prime church sites as child care centres

Ian Bushnell 23 November 2021 5
Artist's impression of the proposed early learning centre in Deakin

An artist’s impression of the proposed early learning centre on the St Luke’s site in Deakin. Image: Cox Architecture.

Two lapsed Anglican Church sites in Canberra’s south will be turned into child care centres under separate proposals submitted to the ACT Planning and Land Authority.

The two prime sites are St Luke’s on Newdegate Street in Deakin, and All Souls on Perry Drive in Chapman, between the shops and primary school, where congregations no longer meet and the church buildings are said to be at end of life.

The cost of the projects exceed $11.5 million – Deakin at $6,440,364 and Chapman at $5,153,022.

The Deakin proposal also includes two, four-bedroom, two-storey townhouses with courtyards and garages to provide accommodation for church workers. Two existing parish/clergy residences in the northeast corner and southwest corners of the triangular site will be retained.

The Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn had previously attempted to redevelop the Deakin site as eight, two-storey supportive housing units for older residents, provoking objections from the local community, mainly about traffic.

In 2019, ACT Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman rejected a bid to scrap the concessional lease.

Artist's impression of car park at Deakin early learning centre

An artist’s impression of the car park at the Deakin early learning centre. Image: Cox Architecture.

Cox Architecture has designed both 120-place early learning centres, which will feed into Anglican schools and meet local demand, but they are quite different.

The 978-square-metre Deakin early learning centre is designed in three sections connected by service areas and ramped corridors that also link covered courtyards opening onto 843 square metres of outdoor play areas.

The white brick and cladding building will have seven rooms for different age groups along with amenities, services, kitchen, staff room and program room.


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A feature will be multicoloured translucent and colourback glass on some of the eastern and western facade windows.

Fourteen regulated trees on the site, said to be in poor shape, will need to be removed, as well as four on the road reserve.

But 15 new trees will be planted on site, including 10 within the early learning centre outdoor play area and five surrounding the new townhouses. The road reserve trees will also be replaced.

A new one-way internal access driveway will lead to a 23-space car park, with one accessible space, while additional parking will be provided within the surrounding streets.

Artist's impression of Chapman early learning centre

An artist’s impression of the two-level Chapman proposal on the All Souls site. Image: Cox Architecture.

The striking Chapman design consists of two pavilions stacked at angles on top of each other. The upper level is at street level, providing entry facilities, and aligned north to south, while the lower level wraps around a circular play area and aligns west to east.

The 335-square-metre upper level extends to the north through a vertical common area with stairs and lift to the lower level. Two playrooms and amenities for babies and toddlers are proposed for that northern end.

The 655-square-metre lower level opens to the dining and kitchen area. It contains five playrooms connected by a circular corridor linking the playrooms with the common area.

Doorways open out into the circular outdoor play area. The lower level also includes kitchen, laundry, staff amenities, covered play areas and a storeroom.

A glazed oculus is situated above the vertical common area to provide light and a sense of space. An awning will provide sheltered access to the front door of the early learning centre, and a recessed pram parking area is included near the front entrance.

An artist’s impression of aerial view of the Chapman early learning centre, showing the car park. Image: Cox Architecture.

A total of 984 square metres of fenced outdoor play space is provided across two levels, and will include three new deciduous trees, accent plantings, rubber soft fall, artificial grass, sandpits, irrigated grass, nature play, slide and hardstand path areas.

The streetscape amenity will include two new trees, shrubs and groundcover plantings, and a low retaining wall. The removal of four trees will be offset by eight new plantings.

A new driveway will service a car park with 19 spaces, including one accessible space.

The proposed early learning centre will be designed for a Reggio Emilia learning approach, which focuses on the individual potential of the child.

Both proposals will require changes to the Crown leases to allow child care facilities.

The Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn was approached for comment.

Both development applications are open for comment until Friday, 10 December.


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5 Responses to Anglican Diocese to redevelop prime church sites as child care centres
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harcm harcm 5:14 pm 23 Nov 21

I wonder; did the church ever actually buy this land or did it get it for free many years ago and are now cashing in on some prime real estate? And has it paid any rates over all these years?
If the structures there are no longer serving any useful purpose(and you could argue that their purpose was never useful) then the government should take the land back and use it to provide affordable housing. A precedent has been set with the resumption of Mr Fluffy blocks so it shouldn’t be hard to do.

    kenbehrens kenbehrens 7:53 pm 23 Nov 21

    I don’t understand why are you assuming some sort of impropriety or profiteering? To people of faith, this could be insulting.

    Some years ago I was associated with a church that owned property and yes, they paid their way, from the after-tax offerings made by it’s members.

    harcm harcm 7:39 am 24 Nov 21

    kenbehrens, where religion is concerned I always assume impropriety or profiteering and I don’t care if “people of faith” are insulted. I think if you look at the history of most churches (and you don’t have to go back very far) you will find plenty of examples where the church has put its own interests ahead of those of the community and even their adherents. Yes, churches own property – there is no doubt about that. Great swathes of it, pulling in rent at a rate Henry V111 would be proud of. But that doesn’t mean that they paid for that property in the first place.
    It’s about time the status of churches as charitable institutions was removed and they were seen for what they are. Businesses.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:12 am 24 Nov 21

    You mean like the University of Canberra’s plan to make millions out of a housing development on land the “own” too?

    harcm harcm 8:23 am 24 Nov 21

    Yep. Although I would hope, and perhaps assume, that money is used on infrastructure and programs that advance our society in some way. You can’t argue that will happen with a church.

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