From church to council chambers

THE SHIRE OF Donnybrook-Balingup in south-western WA has taken community asset renewal to another level by repurposing an old church as its new council chambers.

The shire council acquired the old Uniting Church in Collins Street, Donnybrook, in August 2012 after it was deconsecrated, with plans to use it as an extension of the nearby Administration Building. 

However, with space at a premium – council and other meetings are frequently shuttled between the town library, the SES Building, the Recreation Centre and community halls – the Shire decided to convert the church into its council chambers.

Buying or leasing a transportable building were considered, but the Shire opted to refurbish the Church on the basis that the building needed renewal anyway, and that converting it would it be a more cost-effective and appropriate investment than the alternatives.

The building, which was completed around 1905, was built from stone quarried in the Donnybrook district. It features a pressed metal ceiling, walls of significant ashlar or masonry work, and dressed quoins [corners].

Tenders were called in June 2017, with preservation and refurbishment work starting in September 2017 under the direction of BRC Building Solutions and Ian Molyneux and Associates Architects. The architect is also developing a conservation plan for the church.

The final bill for the conversion is expected to be around $250,00, of which $40,000 is being funded through the Royalties for Regions program.

The building’s official opening will be 28 March, with the first Ordinary Council Meeting scheduled for the next day, Good Friday eve.