Controversial South Hurstville mosque plan refused

Community win: Hundreds of people voiced their opposition to a proposed mosque during an onsite hearing of the Land and Environment Court in August. John Veage
Community win: Hundreds of people voiced their opposition to a proposed mosque during an onsite hearing of the Land and Environment Court in August. John Veage

The Land and Environment Court has rejected a proposed mosque at South Hurstville.

A development application for the mosque at 849 King Georges Road was submitted last year and includes three levels of basement parking for 31 cars, and a two- to three-storey building with a traditional dome occupying the third level.

It would include a separate men’s and women’s prayer area as well as a kitchen and classrooms.

An appeal against Kogarah Council was lodged in the Land and Environment Court after the council failed to make a decision within the legislated 40 day period.

The applicant put forward a number of amendments including removing a pedestrian entry proposed from Tavistock Road, relocating prayer rooms, and offering to change the hours of operation,

However a conciliation conference between the applicant, council and residents failed to resolve the matter.

The project was fiercely opposed by two local community groups- the South Hurstville Residents Association and South Hurstville Action Group – who raised concerns about parking, traffic and increased noise.

More than 2,000 individual and some 800 form letters opposing the development were put in against the original proposal.

On Monday Commissioner Jenny Smithson rejected the appeal.

‘’In summary, the site is simply too small, too close to residential dwellings and therefore too constrained, to be able to satisfactorily operate for its intended purpose, both for future worshippers using it and those who reside near it,’’ she said.

‘’In terms of public interest, my decision is not based on the quantum of opposition to this development but rather the merits of the concerns raised in terms of the unsuitability of this site for the use proposed.

‘’In summary, I am of the view that there is nothing the applicant can reasonably do which would make the proposed development approvable in terms of reasonable impacts on its neighbours and still enable the mosque to operate as would be intended for its worshippers.’’

Howard Baron from the South Hurstville Residents Association said he was quietly confident after the Commissioner deliberated on the decision for three months.

‘’We’re extremely pleased, it’s been a tough year for everyone involved,’’ he said.

‘’When we stepped outside the court, there was lots of hugs.

‘’We met at the local RSL for a few celebratory drinks afterwards but I think they’ll do something bigger later on.’’

Residents spent money and time fighting the proposal including commissioning up to 20 expert reports.

Mr Baron said the win set a precedent for other community groups.

‘’The response has been amazing for locals and for residents from other suburbs,’’ he said.

‘’We want the government to reflect on this and stop politicians sitting on their hands.’’

The group recently met with Georges River Council Administrator John Rayner to ask for changes to the development control plans that would see places of worship moved away from residential streets and into industrial sites.

If successful, they want similar changes at the state and federal levels.

The legal representatives for the applicant have been contacted for comment.

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