Mosque upgrade gets polite no

Parking issues: The Penshurst mosque.
Parking issues: The Penshurst mosque.

MANY nice things were said at the Hurstville Council meeting at the Marana auditorium last Wednesday night.

It was the big meeting in a big space to deal with a big topic: the Penshurst mosque.

Delegated Bosnian Muslim speakers said nice things about their community; how they had been practising their religion there for 27 years without any problems; how they were peaceful and community-minded; and how they had bent over backwards to meet community and council requirements to upgrade the mosque, formerly a Baptist church.

In turn, the councillors said lovely things about the Bosnian Muslim community and their respected place at Penshurst.

But when it came to a decision, it was no go for the upgrade.

The application was killed off by parking — just not enough car spaces to meet council planning requirements — and by objection from residents.

Since it was first submitted last year, the application had been on public exhibition three times, resulting in 1950 submissions and a petition with 1412 signatures against the proposal.

After hearing the council's decision, the disappointed Bosnian Muslims, about 450 of them, left the meeting quietly, but with the intention to take the fight as far as they needed to, probably the Land and Environment Court.

"Firstly, I want to say how happy we were to hear the comments the councillors made about what a good community we were," spokesman Enes Topalovic said.

"When we heard the decision we quietly left the room but we were disappointed because we thought it would be approved."

Mr Topalovic said he couldn't see the logic in the council's decision about parking as the plans had been modified to the point where the mosque would be catering for the same number of worshippers as before the application.

And the one busy time was one hour at noon on Fridays.

"After working with the community and the council we were told that if we eliminated the mezzanine we would have no problem with parking as we would use the same ground floor space for prayer that we use now — the same amount of square metres," Mr Topalovic said.

Most councillors had concerns with parking, saying the area was overburdened with traffic and there was no guarantee the mosque would not attract more worshippers and more cars.

What do you think of the application outcome? 

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