In 2015 Manningham Uniting Church (MUC) embarked on a journey to explore opportunities to consolidate its activities and sustainably better serve the needs of the community. Throughout this process discussions were held with church members, local residents, Manningham City Council and local agencies to establish how a consolidated facility might serve the people living, working and worshiping in the area.
The outcome of the exploration process, which was endorsed by the MUC congregation in early 2016, concluded:
- the Atkinson Street site would become the location for a community and worship space with its already established connection to the Templestowe Village community over the road.
- the Woodhouse Grove site in Box Hill would maintain and honour the heritage chapel and garden while the remainder of the site would be redeveloped into housing.
- the Andersons Creek Road, Westfield Drive and Beverley Street sites would be sold to finance the development and contribute to the wider Uniting Church.
A Project Control Group (PCG) was then established and given oversight of the planning, design and construction works at Atkinson St and Woodhouse Grove, on behalf of the MUC Church Council. The PCG membership included representatives of UCA VicTas Property Services, Presbytery and MUC.
The PCG appointed local Melbourne architecture firm Fishe Payne Pattinson Viney (FPPV) in early 2017 to plan and design buildings that would meet the needs of both the church and the local community. Together they came up with a concept for the Templestowe site that will include:
- on-site relocation and restoration of the local heritage listed Timber Church
- retention of the local heritage listed Brick Church
- a new large auditorium/function venue and community kitchen
- multipurpose community spaces and meeting rooms for small to large groups
- an ancillary café
- an outdoor playground
- designated youth space
- underground car parking
- shared work space and administration area
In 2018, the PCG also appointed FPPV to plan and design the redevelopment of the Woodhouse Grove site. Planning options for the Woodhouse Grove development are currently being evaluated. They will take into account:
- potential commercial returns
- protection and preservation of the Heritage Victoria listed Wesleyan Chapel
- retention of the Memorial Garden and significant trees
- the needs and expectations of the local community
- local and state planning guidelines