A secretive planning application for a large 'Melbourne Islamic Centre' and Mosque by Pakistani property developers has local residents up in arms.
UPDATE: A FIRST SUCCESS! At the council meeting on Monday, 30 April 2018, a motion by Cr Ken Hardy, seconded by Cr Sophie Ramsay, has taken the mosque application off the agenda for four months for further investigations and community consultations.
Next concerned residents group meeting Monday 28 May 2018 at 7:00pm
Join the mailing list https://goo.gl/forms/0toUPS5RwTsDKLf33 to receive updates and invites for upcoming meetings.
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.
Know the location 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 our Melton Mosque flyer to inform friends and neighbours: MeltonMosqueInfoFlyer.pdf
Download a flyer explaining what a mosque is: Mosque Explained Flyer A5.pdf
Contact details for Melton councillors: WhosWhoatMCC.pdf
What to expect when a mosque comes to town: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J9tNWFJHF4
Want to know what goes on in a mosque? Watch these two videos from UK's Channel 4 Dispatches:
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Good Reasons to Oppose this Mosque and Islamic Centre
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 Centre project, council merely put up a small sign at the property fence and supposedly gave notification to the most immediate neighbours.
There are good reasons to object to this inappropriate mosque. We have listed some below.
Update 1 May 2018: It is now too late to lodge formal objections.
Write and call your local councillors and ask them to reject this project. A link to their contact details is above.
10 reasons this Islamic Centre and Mosque in Melton must be rejected:
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 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 'Qartaba Homes Pty Ltd' in Sydney and Melbourne. The address given in the PA 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 an 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 a large number of 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.
6. The applicants are hiding their true agenda. The proposed centre is for a far greater attendance than the proposed 60 Muslim worshippers. Based on the proposed size of the prayer area and number of toilets, the projected attendance is over 400. The applicants for this 'Melbourne Islamic Centre' are three Pakistani property developers reportedly building houses in the adjoining estate. This is a fundamentalist Islamic enclave in the making. If allowed to proceed, this will ultimately transform the character of the area and impact on everyone's amenity and property values.
7. The acoustics report relates to a different building. The building depicted in the acoustics report attached to the planning application is different from the building proposed in the planning application. In fact, the plans used seem to be for a horse shed of the former owner. It would be deceptive to base an approval on the findings of this acustics report submitted to council.
8. The applicant has not committed to asphalting the section of road as directed by VCAT for their expired Planning Application. While the applicants in their new PA claim everything would be the same as per the previous application, there is no mention in their new PA that the directive by VCAT to asphalt the section of Harkness Road between the proposed Melbourne Islamic Centre and the next intersection will be adhered to. Council must reject the application for this reason alone. It is unacceptable for neighbouring landholders to be subjected to the airborne dust and from hundreds of extra road users on the current dirt road section leading to the proposed site.
9. Property developers are not religious or spiritual leaders. The same three Pakistani gentlemen acting as directors for recently registered and Sydney-based 'Melbourne Islamic Centre Ltd' are also acting as property developers and builders under the company name Qartaba Homes Pty Ltd. In fact, the initial application was under the Qartaba Homes name. It is unclear how these gentlemen can claim privileges for a place of worship. Council must reject a Planning Application for a place of worship, unless the applicants can provide evidence they are actually recognised as religious leaders in their faith community. Nothing of the like has been presented.
10. The area is unsuitable for this project. When surveing the area for a future cemetery, engineers brought down drillings for over 1,000 soil probes. They found large sections of the vulcanic soil in the area to be unstable and prone to severe ground movement. For this reason, the land earmarked for the planned cemetery at the nortwest corner of the planned cemetery, exactly where the proposed Islamic Centre would be located, has been declared unfit for development. A state report has described the land as 'Sinkhole Plain'. Long-time rural residents of the area report of sinkholes and large cracks opening up in their paddocks. Melton Council has been aware of this situation for years, but decided to play ignorant.
NB: Should the report become unavaible from state parliament, use this link here: VPARL1985-87No57.pdf