GALLERY: Bendigo's first mosque in pipeline

LATEST: Residents relaxed about proposed mosque 

UPDATE 2.30PM FRIDAY: Bendigo’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Monsignor Frank Marriott has called for greater tolerance and harmony among religious groups, following the announcement of a proposed mosque in Bendigo. 

Monsignor Frank Marriott said the challenge facing Bendigo is to bring Christian, Buddhist, Islamic and other traditions together, possibly by developing an inter-faith council. 

"I welcome the proposal and the ability for them to worship, but I ask the Islamic community to extend the same hospitality," he said. 

"There are places where we are not free to worship and if we are giving them the freedom to worship, we are entitled to expect the same freedom."

He said an inter-faith council would help the different faiths work through a degree of understanding. 

"This proposal demands a fairly important response," he said. 

The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion's Ian Green said the proposal would expand Bendigo's cultural interest and diversity. 

"As a real regional capital city, we should be aiming to cater for a real range of diverse people which makes the town all the more interesting," he said. 

Mr Green experienced some negativity when building the Great Stupa 33 years ago. 

But he said while there was always a vocal minority in terms of religion, the majority of Bendigo would most likely support the move. 

"Of course there will be some odd comments made from the more extreme elements, but the overwhelming community response was welcoming," he said. 

"I'm sure it'll be the same for the mosque. 

"You can't think of a few people disagreeing with you - you have to think of the greater good and all the positives."

UPDATE 2PM: Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services general manager Noemi Cummings has thrown her support behind a proposed $3 million mosque to be built in Bendigo. 

As it stands, the Islamic community have been congregating for worship in rooms at La Trobe University for several years but may soon have access to a two-storey, multi-use facility to pray. 

The facility, planned for Rohs Road in East Bendigo, will feature two prayer halls, education facilities, a community sports hall and office. 

Funded by the Australian Islamic Mission, it will cater for weddings and funerals and offer prayer facilities for up to 150 families. 

Ms Cummings said Bendigo's Muslim community would appreciate having a place to worship God as they have chosen.

"As a Christian, I appreciate having a place where I meet like-minded people to worship God," she said. 

"I appreciate being respected and having the freedom to choose my religious persuasion how and where to worship.

"For that reason I extend the same respect and appreciation to others.

"At the Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services, we affirm our desire to promote respect and understanding for the integrity of each other beliefs, cultures and traditions."

The planning application, submitted by Tomkinson Group, says the centre would "provide the Muslim community with an identity".

"It will help define Bendigo as a welcoming multicultural city," it states. 

EARLIER: A PROPOSED $3 million Islamic centre in Bendigo is set to accommodate a changing community.

The multi-use centre, planned for Rohs Road in East Bendigo, will include two prayer halls, education facilities, a community sports hall, caretaker house and office.

The planning application, submitted by Tomkinson Group, says the centre would "help provide the Muslim community with an identity".

"It will define Bendigo as a welcoming multicultural city," it states.

The Bendigo Islamic community have been congregating for worship in rooms at La Trobe University for several years.

The proposed mosque, funded by the Australian Islamic Mission, will open up worship opportunities and offer prayer facilities for 150 families. 

City of Greater Bendigo planning director Prue Mansfield said council was currently working with the applicants regarding the proposal. 

"We are asking the usual questions about traffic impact and with it being close to the airport we want to make sure the height requirements are okay," she said.

"Once we've sorted out that, we will formally advertise the application."

Ms Mansfield said if the application was approved, construction would get underway immediately.

"We don't have an opinion yet because we can't do the assessment until all those questions have been answered," she said.

"In terms of another service for Bendigo though, it is fantastic to see the community developing and us increasing our services for the changing community."

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