The Sydney Central City Planning Panel sat on 27th September at 5.30pm at Castle Hill RSL to hear the DA determination for the construction of a place of worship at 1 Larapinta Place, Glenhaven, for the Hills District Muslim Society (HDMS). The room at the RSL was full to capacity, there was standing room only. Channel 7 and other media were also in attendance.Over 1068 submissions were received by Council following lodgement of the DA, 1028 objecting and 40 in support. At the Planning Panel meeting 50 people had registered to speak from the general public, 25 for and 25 against, plus Councillors, Council Officers, experts and the Applicant’s representative. These were the main points raised and some observations:

Against DA Approval

  • -95% of those speaking against the development were Glenhaven residents. They had researched the issues well and presented facts and likely problems which they asked the panel to consider.
  • Residents main issues were traffic, parking, waste water/run off, bushland effects, the size and capacity of the structure, the change in patron numbers from 400 down to 250 without any change in building size and that is wasn’t in keeping with a semi rural zone and would affect their local amenity.

For DA Approval

  • Observation: None lived in the Glenhaven area, they all stated that they lived in “the hills”.
  • The need and desire for a ‘home’ just as other religions have their places of worship. The first speaker said the objections were due to racism, which drew a groan from the audience.

Council reasons to reject the DA. They included:• The DA was contrary to the objectives of the RU6 Transition Zone. It had not addressed the requirements of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. It did not comply with a number of Development Controls.

It was missing the necessary information for a proper assessment to be made for earthworks, fill, landscaping, tree removal, biodiversity impacts, waste water management and acoustic details.

  • The size and occupancy capacity is excessive for the number of patrons stated in the application and has the potential to lead to a much greater number of patrons and consequent impact than stated by the applicant.The following points were noted also:
  • Council expressed their disappointment that the applicant, the Hills District Muslim Society, had refused a conciliation meeting.
  • The Council considers the building structure could house up to 1900 patrons (a point disputed by the applicant).
  • All Councillors agreed that the HDMS needed a place of worship.

They all considered the current location unsuitable due to its semi rural setting. The determination was to defer the matter for 3 months to allow the applicant time to address all the points. The panel Chair also made the point that significant financial investment may be needed by the HDMS to provide all the necessary reporting and adjustments which might include making the structure smaller.

She then asked the HDMS to take their time to consider if this was the right location for a growing religious community.

This point also paralleled Council’s suggestion that they could help find a more suitable location which would allow HDMS allow them to accommodate a growing religious community.

To read more indepth details, go to the Friends of Glenhaven website at www.friendsofglenhaven.com.au, or follow them on facebook @friendsofglenhaven