After almost two years in limbo, a Campbell Town couple has been given the green light to develop a historic church within the town.
Nicole and Garry Graham, who plan to convert the 19th century church into a cafe and function centre, received news of their approval from Northern Midlands Council and the Tasmanian Heritage Council last week.
Relocating from NSW to Tasmania to take on the business venture, Nicole Graham said the couple was “very excited” to finally move forward with the project.
“There is nothing stopping us now, we can truly move forward with our dream,” she said.
Mrs Graham said their first step would be to build fencing around the property.
“We will build a gorgeous white picket fence. As we are spending more than $100,000 on landscaping the grounds and even more on restoring the property we want to protect it from people just wandering in, which happens on a daily basis,” she said.
“We want tourists and Tasmanians to enjoy the property, but we also need to manage that.”
Once the fencing is completed the Grahams will focus on restoring the church and its gardens.
Since starting the project the couple has received an outpouring of support from the community with ‘The Church’ facebook page now followed by more than 4,000 people.
“We have not come across one person who has expressed any concerns or disappointments in the conversion of the building,” Mrs Graham said.
“It really is an exciting project for all of Campbell Town.”
Despite being frustrated by the long process, Mrs Graham said the delay in development had benefited the couple in a number of ways.
“We have changed and improved many of our ideas because we have had so much time to ponder on them and it won’t just be a restaurant or cafe, it will be a whole experience,” she said.
One of the building's unique features will be its Scottish theme, which the couple selected to represent the heritage of the church.
Expected to open in 2017, the site will host functions, entertainment and community events.
“Everyone is really looking forward to it and the community’s support has been outstanding. It really is going to be a major feature on Tassie’s busiest highway,” she said.
“We want to assure the community and Tasmania as a whole that this project will be a success.”
A spokesperson for the Tasmanian Heritage Council said the development proposal was “a positive example of property owners working to breathe new life into an historic building on the Midlands Highway”.