Collective Q&A about the Earlwood purchase

Proposed Earlwood Hall purchase

January 2021

Introduction

The NSW collective is investigating the purchase of meeting hall to establish a new permanent Sydney Meeting place where we can host all of our weekly collective meetings. It is  unlikely that we will ever be able to return to our prior unrestricted use of No. 10 Clarence Street for our large collective meetings.

The Proposal

Details about the proposal were emailed to the NSW collective on 10th January 2020. Read emails

Property location; 6 Burlington Avenue, Earlwood NSW

Google map

Questions & Answers

Below are the questions being raised by the collective about the project and responses from the NSW Councillors.

Q&A's Added 13th January 2021
Q&A’s Added 13th January 2021

Who is selling the property? Who will be the owners of the property?
The property is a Church owned by a Trust which is setup to manage the affairs of the Church of Christ. Most religious organizations setup Trusts to own, manage and run the properties on behalf of their organizations and for the benefit of their practitioners. Life Eternal Trust Australia also has a property  holding company called Life Eternal Properties Australia which holds the titles of the seven Australian collective properties on behalf of, and for the aims and  objectives of the Trust which Shri Mataji drafted and created to help promote and manage the affairs of Sahaja Yoga in Australia. 

Why are we buying another property in the city area when Shri Mataji spoke about being in the country?
No 10 Clarence St Burwood has been the home of weekly meetings for the Sydney collective from 1981 until 2018 and has been instrumental in both providing a  forum for Yogis to meet collectively each week, for Ladies programs, Yuva Program, Young Yuva Programs, Bala Shakti Programs, Mothers and Baby’s meetings and a central place to help establish new Yogis into the main collective. Shri Mataji directed us to the Country for our Pujas which was why we purchased and developed Balmoral as Shri Mataji asked us to do.

Why don’t we use Balmoral for weekly meeting ?
Some of our more senior yogis  have reported to us that they sometimes find it hard to return from Balmoral after the program so we need to have a place where we can meet which can be supportive of all the collective. Now that it is unlikely that we can return to use Burwood as we used to with unlimited meetings. We are all looking for a more permanent and long term solution that can host all the range of events that Burwood has hosted,

This feels very rushed, in a environment of time constraints, to make a firm offer to the vendor, against apparent competing other bids?
We have been in the market for a new property to serve as the Adelaide Centre for over 4 years and we have not yet been able to secure a centre for the needs for the South Australian Yogis. We were asked by Burwood Council to stop using the residence of No 10 Clarence St to host meetings in November 2018.

We have been exploring solutions to the needs to permanently host our Sydney meetings for two years. In these matters of property acquisition there are all manner of investigations  and negotiations that take place.  We are all of the view that if this property is meant for us Shri Mataji will work it out such that we are successful  in raising the deposit , fund the mortgage and secure the property for the use by the collective.  If it is not meant for us and the other party will buy it. So be it. We will for other possible properties. Everything is by the grace of Shri Mataj according to Her Will.

I would like to suggest a preliminary meeting with council to discuss the renovation plans and car parking requirements, prior to making an offer
As the property has existing “place of worship” permission. The right of use when this permission was granted did not require the owners to provide off street Car Parking. As we are seeking to purchase the property “as is” including its rights of use as a place of worship. These permission are passed on to the new owners. This is one of advantages of this property we do not need to meet with Council to negotiate car parking. Similarly the renovations are all internal to the property and we are not planning to change the boundary walls. This means a DA is not required . We do not need to seek Council permission  for internal improvements or to provide off street car parking.

Councils often have special interests to pursue and as such, can frustrate the best intentions
As explained we are working with regards this possible purchase to maintain the existing rights of use of this property to host meetings and to operate as a community meeting for religious purposes. As long as we do not seek to change the external walls of the property to major redevelopment or  submit a new  DA there is no role for the Council to play in the sale.

Is the Burwood property being leveraged or sold to support the proposed purchase, or is it being funded through debt.
The potential sale is being funded through debt. The first goal we need to reach if we are to proceed with this property is to seek pledges to raise the deposit of  $175,000 from the NSW collective. If we are not able to raise the deposit then we will not proceed further in organising credit through our Bank.

Would we move all the meetings and activities that are currently hosted at Burwood to this new hall?
Almost every day there was a meeting or activity that was being hosted at Burwood. Given that the local council gave a notice not to host meetings at Burwood as it is a residence and not a designated meeting place.  If we are able to secure this property ideally all of the activity that was hosted at Burwood would move to the new property. Burwood Ashram would solely become a Temple to Shri Adi Shakti where Yogis meet for meditation, worship and spiritual introspection.

Q&A's Added 11th January 2021
Q&A’s Added 11th January 2021

How is the Church Building setup and what are the vibrations being a former Church? 
The Building is split into two sections. The front is the former congregation part and the larger section of the building has been used as a Community Hall  The Community Hall section’s vibrations were not heavy. The congregation section was  a little heavy on the Agnya. The building has been empty and  unused for a year. Many of the buildings this denomination has purchased  were all built and had the  major portion of their use by the major Church denominations who built them. They were then passed onto this denomination. In short the building is not that heavy vibrationally. 

Concern about purchasing a former Church as a Sahaja Yoga meeting place and the question of vibrations?
Shri Mataji said with regards to the Churches that these buildings maybe used one day – meaning one day we maybe looking to take on some of these buildings for meetings. The Earwood Church is a modest building. If we were to proceed we would renovate the building from top to bottom to refurbish the building and establish our own vibrations and to invite Shri Mataji. From this perspective the power of the param chaitanya as it has remade all of us can certainly remake a meeting place through our directed attention through the Grace and Blessings of Shri Adi Shakti. Balmoral had a small tin machinery shed and was setup as a Blueberry farm. Look at it today. Consider what the Earlwood  Church may become, and less what it is today. 

Access to public transport, off street parking, will we have issues with neighbours?
The property is within 800 meters of Canterbury Station and 1km from Earlwood Station. It is has good connection to public transportation. As an established “place of worship” this means we do not have to provide off street parking.  We can park in the residential streets which is allowed under the existing place of worship provisions. 
The neighbours purchased in the street with the  Church already in place and operating. There are no grounds to complain to Council if the surrounding residential street fills with cars on a Saturday night. The existing provisions also mean we can meet, dance, sing and host Pujas as much and as often as want, as long as we end by 10pm. 

Why purchase a former Church?
The issues we have had with residential properties used to host collective meetings have demonstrated  that we can only meet at properties with existing registered use as a “place of worship” or  “community use”. The reason being these properties had their use registrations in place before the more strict local Council Building codes  
were enacted for meeting places. This is why we need to look at established properties with existing place of worship or community use provisions already in place. The upgraded building compliance rules are not retrospective applied when we purchase a Church or a Community Hall as long as we do not lodge a new DA.  
The in-place right-of-use provision persists with the sale of a former Church of Community Hall.

Purchasing a property such as this means we do not have to provide for off street car parking. This  is a make or break consideration if we want our own permanent meeting place. Fitzroy Hall is a good interim solution but other religious groups also hire this space for their meetings. As long as we do not lodge a new DA and have to negotiate new conditions such as compliance to the new building codes.  The local Council cannot revoke the existing place of worship use.

Has this been the consistent approach when looking to establish new Sahaja Yoga meeting places?
These considerations are consistent and have also driven our search in Adelaide. Over a number of years where we have been very close to purchasing a number of former Churches as the new Adelaide Centre. What we have found is that we are usually competing with Developers who wish to purchase these larger properties to develop into apartments and we have always been outbid. The Earlwood property has  existing place of worship provisions and is small enough so it is unsuited for redevelopment. In Adelaide we have been actively in the market for 4 -6 years. The right size and style of property are very hard to find which we can afford. The Earlwood property meets all of these criteria and has come on the market at the start of our search for a new meeting place. 

Why this Earlwood Church? Why are we looking now?  
The size and configuration of the property with difficult access for off street or underground car parking means we are not competing with developers. This also means that the price is  not inflated. This site is not suitable for Apartments. This is why the price is within the range of an average Sydney residential property. We are only competing with other religious groups who like us who are not flushed with funds. It is much more of a level playing field. 

Why not purchase some land and build our own new Meeting Hall?
We could look at purchasing a block of land in Sydney and building a new Sahaja Yoga Community Hall. Seeking to establish our own new purpose built center. However we would need to purchase land for the Centre and also sufficient land to accommodate off street Car Park parking for 150 people. Look at the configuration of the
Fitzroy Hall Centre. The land allocated to accommodate the Car Park is more than double the amount of land that is allocated to the Hall. This amount of land to build a Hall and accommodate and off street Car Park is beyond our financial means within Suburban Sydney. 

Rent or Buy …  Why Buy?
We could rent in perpetuity and use collective funds in this way. For many of us Sahaja Yoga is forever and we feel building for the future is a testament to our faith in who we are. Sahaja Yoga needs to be firmly establish itself within the community with a legal and recognized place to meet. Having our own Hall where we can establish 
our own vibrations and provide a new collective home for the Sydney collective is part of our plan for growth and moving forward, done so by however means that are financially responsible and can work within reasonable financial constraints. 

Financial pledges?
Some have asked if we need an upfront commitment of a financial donation, or if a dollar amount commitment per month can be directed to support the service of the mortgage sufficient.  Either means of support is most welcome and appreciated to help us fund the possible purchase.