A secretive planning application for a mosque has infuriated local residents.
Melton City Council, a semi-rural community at the western fringe of Melbourne, is trying to sneak through a planning application for a large mosque on over 100,000 sqm of rural land - without properly notifying the local residents.
The location is 171-197 Harkness Road in Melton West.
Download a copy of the planning application Application-for-PA2017-5728.pdf
Download a copy of the mosque plans: Plans-for-PA2017-5728.pdf
Download a flyer explaining what a mosque is: Mosque Explained Flyer A5.pdf
What to expect when a mosque comes to town: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J9tNWFJHF4
For planning applications of this magnitude, impacting a large number of residents, the Victorian Planning and Environment Act 1987 mandates a public notice in the local papers. However, for this 100,000sqm Islamic project, council merely put up a small sign at the property fence and supposedly gave notification to the most immediate neighbours.
The applicant, a 'Melbourne Islamic Centre Ltd', has provided as business address on their appplication an empty block of land in Sydney's western fringe. This 'Melbourne Islamic Centre' is managed by three Pakistani gentlemen, who are active as property developers in Sydney and Melbourne - as well as spreading fundamentalist Islam. There are good reasons to object to this inappropriate mosque. We have listed some below.
If you are a resident in the City of Melton and share these concerns, you need to lodge a formal objection today. The matter is urgent as the council may decide any day now.
You can do this in three ways:
In writing by sending your objection to:
City of Melton
PO Box 21
Melton, VIC 3337
In person by dropping off you objection at
Melton City Council, 232 High Street, Melton, VIC 3337
Make sure the mark your objection with the following:
OBJECTION TO PLANNING APPLICATION
171-197 Harkness Road, Harkness VIC 3337
Planning Application Number: PA2017/5728
Here are some of the reasons why we find this mosque inappropriate and objectionable:
1. The Application for Planning Permit form is inconclusive and incomplete.
(a) It is unclear whether the applicant actually conducts a legitimate business in Australia. At the business address provided by applicants 142 Riverstone Road, Riverstone, NSW 2765, according to 2018 Google Map Data, CoreLogic RP data retrieved on 6 March 2018 and a site visit on 6 March 2018, there is no sign of any business.
The address is in fact an empty block, apparently designated for residential development. Section 142(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 requires a business to have a registered office and section 145(1) of the Act requires a public company to have certain opening hours of that business address to the public. The applicant apparently has neither.
Council must reject the current application and clarify with whom council is dealing with in respect to any future application.
(b) The applicant relies on her claim that this new application is merely replacing the expired planning permit PA2012/3458, which the applicant failed to act on before it expired. However, since the first planning permit was considered and issued in 2012, substantial developments have occurred in the municipality. Council must take this into account. The altered traffic conditions in and out of Harkness Road, demands on utilities (in particular in respect to water supply and sewerage connection), amenities of bordering developments and recent advancements in sustainable building and energy use, must be taken into account. Council must reject the application as it cannot rely on mere assurances based on the expired permit. Planning permits are issued with an expiry period for good reason.
(c) In the files published by the council, the applicant as well as her consultants, failed to provide their ABN or ACN on the application form. This is a legal requirement for incorporated entities. Further, the applicant has left unanswered the owner details, but then ticked the box asserting that the owner has been notified of the permit. These are formal deficiencies on which council should have rejected the application.
2. Council failed to give adequate public notice pursuant to s52 (1)(d)of the PE Act 1987. In particular council has failed to publish a notice in a newspaper circulating in the area. The proposed mosque would not only change the rural characteristic of the area and amenity, but the very nature of the project, i.e. the establishment of a “Melbourne Islamic Centre” by a fundamentalist Pakistani Islamic group, is of general concern and may cause material detriment to the wider Melton community.
At the very least, the community must be notified and given an opportunity to voice concerns. Given the size and divisiveness of the project, council must provide adequate public notice. Otherwise, councillors will not have satisfied themselves, that the proposal does not negatively impacts or cause material detriment to persons in the municipality.
3. The planned mosque discriminates against women. The proposed mosque segregates women from men. The assigned area for women is less than half the size allocated for men (280 sqm vs 120 sqm). This is testament to the fundamentalist mind set of the applicants. Under Islamic law women are declared deficient require a second woman to make a valid statement before courts and are allocated only half the inheritance of a male relative. However, in Australia discrimination on gender grounds is prohibited under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. “The Sex Discrimination Act gives effect to Australia's obligations under the ‘Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women’ and certain aspects of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 156. Its major objectives are to promote equality between men and women and to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex.” Council must not become liable to facilitate such breach of Australian law and universal human values by approving the application in its current form.
4. Council has not adequately considered water usage in this mosque. When 60+ worshippers perform ritual ablutions before each of their five daily prayers, this has noticeable impact on both fresh water use and sewerage. The planning application makes no reference to these special circumstances. Council should reject the application and require the applicant to provide an assessment in respect to planned water use, conservation of drinking water and treatment of sewerage.
5. Council failed to undertake a Social Impact Assessment The establishment of a “Melbourne Islamic Centre” by a fundamentalist Pakistani Islamic group is matter of concern to the wider Melton community. To grant a planning permit for such a divisive project without assessing the social impact, may expose council to redress. At the very least, council should invite the applicant and their religious leadership to sign up to an undertaking similar to the ‘Proposed Charter of Muslim Understanding’. This will go some way to address the valid concerns members of the community have with proponents of fundamental Islamic ideology. Summary
Council must reject the application in its current form. The application is substantially deficient and fails to address a number of relevant legal, social and environmental concerns.
IMPORTANT: Don't just copy/paste, but (re)write in your own words to ensure your objection counts.