ARARAT - A new building destined to be a gathering room is fast taking shape at Ararat's Church of the Immaculate Conception.
The construction began at the start of February and is expected to be completed by the middle of June.
Father Brendan Davey said the project already looked to be ahead of schedule.
"Within a couple of weeks the foundations have been laid and the brick work on one side is well underway," he said.
"The dry weather has really benefited the works with the builders here from the crack of dawn until late in the day."
The design of the building will be kept consistent with the bluestone appearance of the Church.
"The original idea was to have a gathering area at the end of the church for funerals," Father Davey said.
He said once complete the new parish hall would replace St Mary's Hall.
"We'll have more space in the new room which will also have a kitchen and toilets," he said.
The cost of the development project has been estimated at $600,000.
Father Davey said they were hoping to raise $200,000 from an appeal they launched last year.
"So far we have raised $80,000 through events including a trash and treasure market, auction and garage sale," he said.
"We've had various fundraising activities and will have more to come."
Father Davey said a ball will be held later in the year and thanked everyone who had donated or shown their support so far.
"It has been amazing, the response to the direct appeal has really staggered us," he said.
"Especially in the lead up to Christmas where people generally have a lot more expenses than usual."
The new parish hall will be easily accessible both through the church and from the street.
Father Davey said the response from the community to the development had also been positive.
"People tell me how delighted they are to see it going up, and going up so quickly," he said.
Both Marian College and St Mary's Primary School are behind the project and will benefit from the new room.
"It is great to see a bit of life about the place and see it happening in front of your eyes from day to day," he said.
Father Davey said it was important for people to remember the room will be available to the entire community.
"The hall will be a valuable resource for the parish community, along with the wider community," he said.
Father Davey said height framing and floor work would be part of the next phase of the building project.