Planning issue taken to VCAT
A GROUP protesting the Bendigo mosque has confirmed it will take the matter to Victoria's planning tribunal, following serious concerns over the proposal.
Councillors last month approved the region's first mosque in a seven-two vote.
The project, funded by the Australian Islamic Mission, attracted 254 objections and 40 submissions in support.
Most of the objectors based their submissions on religious grounds, including fears the mosque would create a Muslim “enclave” and a drop in house prices.
However, many were also based on planning grounds.
City of Greater Bendigo Prue Mansfield has backed council's decision, saying the proposal is in line with all of council's planning requirements.
She said that many conditions had been put in place to alleviate concerns, including the height reduction of the minaret following a request from residents and the number of worshippers than can attend the mosque during services.
"The applicant readily agreed to reduce the height from 24.79 metres to 21.4 metres," Ms Mansfield said.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has no objections to this height, subject to conditions.
Ms Mansfield also confirmed that a call to prayer had not been included in the mosque application.
"This has never been included in the permit and there will be no noise allowed for external broadcasting or playing music," she said.
"This is part of the council conditions and if they broke this, we would inform them and penalise them like any other permit breach."
Other concerns include the number of people who would be allowed to worship at the mosque at any given time.
"It's hard for any place of worship to gauge numbers but once again, if the planning permit is breached council will take action to bring it into compliance," Ms Mansfield said.
She also confirmed that the wrong owner name for the Rowena Street site was put on the original application, which was amended immediately when council became aware of the issue.
"The Australian Islam Mission was originally written as the owner of the site but when we cross checked this, it was discovered it was actually a private owner," she said.
"This is a surprisingly common mistake."