By Brendan Rees
Narre Warren North residents are preparing to fight plans for a mosque proposed for their township.
The Saarban Islamic Trust has submitted plans to Casey Council for a mosque at 365 -367 Belgrave-Hallam Road, Narre Warren North but residents have cited concerns of traffic, and the building impacting their “picturesque township.”
The plan consists of a main mosque building featuring an open prayer hall, and an ancillary building which would provide a recreational space, a meeting area and office for the Imam.
It’s also proposed to provide 226 car spaces, and cater up to 372 patrons with large numbers expected to gather during Friday afternoon prayer, festivals and special events.
Neighbour Terry Ryan who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, says the mosque was inappropriate and “we’ll do anything we can to stop it.”
“I just don’t want to live next to a volume of block of buildings,” he said. “It’s also not a building for the locals, it doesn’t enhance the foothills, the list goes on and on.”
“The next question everybody asks me ‘what you would do if it was a Catholic church or a Coles supermarket?’ And the answer is it could be a cathedral or a Coles – I don’t care, don’t want it,” he said.
“We bought the property out there for a rural lifestyle.”
Mr Ryan also expressed his concern about the hours of prayer operation proposed to start at 4am during summer.
The plans come after Council knocked back a previous application to develop a place of worship, on a “number of grounds” and following an objection by VicRoads.
Cr Rosalie Crestani said about 300 people had already objected to the renewed plans with concerns it would be inappropriately placed within in a green wedge semi-rural zone.
Other concerns, she said, were traffic and safety issues, and also the social and cultural impact to an “otherwise quiet and picturesque township at the foothills to the Dandenongs.”
“I have conveyed to them that I take all feedback on board and intend to review the material associated with the application as well as the report following the application’s planning review,” Cr Crestani said.
“I have always listened to Narre Warren North. They know my aim as a primary: their safety.”
Casey city planning and infrastructure Peter Fitchett said public submissions regarding the mosque application were advertised until 18 April and was likely to be reported to a council meeting in June or July for consideration.
The Saarban Islamic Trust has been contacted for comment.