Prayer room gets the nod

A MUSLIM prayer room in a South Hurstville home should be up and going again as soon as the owner complies with a number of conditions imposed by Kogarah Council.

The prayer room had been closed since May this year pending a new development application.

At its last meeting for the year the council granted a deferred commencement consent, meaning there will be no prayers until the conditions are met.

They include the removal of unauthorised structures at the rear of the house and the reinstatement of the old car park and awnings, provision of fire safety measures, toilets and proper exits.

A Muslim community spokesman, Amin Nasser, said it could take three to four months for the community to get funds for the work.

He said the prayer room was especially important to the elderly Muslims who did not drive, many of whom had lived in the neighbourhood since the early 1950s.

The brick residence had been used for prayers for more than 20 years but neighbourhood complaints brought it to the attention of the council which said consent and development applications were necessary.

The first application, approved at the end of 2010 and activated in March 2011 for a 12-month trial period, lapsed earlier this year. A new application was lodged in June.

A number of letters and petitions, both in support and against the application, were received.

An objector who lives next door said he hoped the owners of the house would decide not to continue with the prayer room given the stringent council conditions.

He said real estate values would suffer.

APPROVAL CONDITIONS

The prayer room’s hours of operation will be limited to 11.30am to 1pm on Fridays. During Ramadan an additional one-hour evening sermon a day is permitted around sunset.

 A fixed sign must be placed in a clearly visible position advising operating times and  maximum number of people (40).

 Internet links and advertisements promoting the premises are to include the hours of operation.

 All prayer activities are to be confined to the prayer room.

There must be a permanent sign in both English and Arabic requesting patrons to leave quickly and quietly.

The operator must ensure that the behaviour of patrons entering and leaving the premises does not detrimentally affect the amenity of the neighbourhood.

Patrons must leave in an orderly manner within 15 minutes.

The operator is to maintain a log/diary recording the number of attendees and duration of each prayer session.

The existing speakers in the enclosed outdoor area are to be removed and no amplified audio associated with the prayer room is to be played outside that room.

Do you support the council's decision?

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