Council says no to church

By Ewen McRae

Melton council has knocked back a permit for a church in an industrial area, saying it is an inappropriate site.
Kingdom Life Ministries International has been holding services at a warehouse in Melton’s High Street industrial precinct for several months, and was seeking to legitimise
the use by lodging a planning application for a place of assembly at the site.
The group had been seeking approval for a maximum of 50 people to meet on the site on weeknights and on Sundays, however nine objections were lodged, claiming the area wasn’t appropriate for such a meeting.
Every objector raised concerns about children roaming around the industrial area unsupervised.
Council planning services manager Bob Baggio recommended the council refuse the permit.
“In recent years, council has noticed an increase in what we would call non-industrial uses wanting to operate in industrial areas,” Mr Baggio said.

“Often these uses can be appropriate … however in some case, particularly where the use is located, as is the case here, in a multi-tenanted site, conflict can result.”
Deputy mayor Steve Abboushi tried to pass an alternate motion that would have approved the application with a number of stringent conditions, but his motion was defeated.
“When places of worship go residential we have residents up in arms about places of worship in their street as their neighbours,” he said.

“So they go and choose industrial areas because, for the majority of the time, they’re not going to disturb people, and in my opinion that’s an appropriate location.”
Councillor Sophie Ramsey agreed with council officers that the site was inappropriate.
“The location has red flags all over it,” Cr Ramsey said.

“It is located on one of our busiest roads, not far from one of our most dangerous intersections, it’s got industrial uses there that I don’t think are compatible with a church, and apart from that, it’s been operating without a permit and hasn’t responded to any of the conditions or concerns of the objectors in the immediate surrounds.”