CONTROVERSIAL plans for a mosque on the Sunshine Coast have been approved by the local council despite vocal concerns expressed by anti-Islam groups.

The mosque at 14 Church St, Maroochydore, was approved by the council with strict conditions around church numbers, noise and the use of amplification.

A development permit for a material change of use for the building was issued by the council on June 23.

It was not considered at the normal council meetings but dealt with by council officers.

Conditions include:

  • The total number of people attending the Place of Worship must not exceed:
  • 25 during weekly worship services or during any other Place of Worship activities; and
  • 40 during twice-yearly holiday/festival services.
  • All Place of Worship activities must be conducted only within the area shown as "Worship Space" on the approved plans.
  • Worship services must not must not operate outside of the hours of:

(a) for the weekly worship services - 12pm to 3pm on Fridays; and
(b) for the twice-yearly holiday/festival services - 7am to 10am on the festival day.

  • No amplified music/sound shall occur on the site.

Planning portfolio councillor Christian Dickson said the application was assessed and managed in accordance with the requirements of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 and the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014. 

"A "Place of Worship" which includes a church, chapel, mosque, synagogue or temple was identified in the Planning Scheme as a 'consistent use' at this site," Cr Dickson said.

"Furthermore, as the application was code assessable, it was determined by council officers under delegated authority.

"The proposal involves the re-use of an existing building and car parking, with the "Place of Worship" on the ground floor and "Caretakers' Residence" on the second floor. 

"Following a detailed assessment, the application was found to comply, or could be conditioned to comply, with all requirements of the Planning Scheme. 

"The approval is subject to conditions which limit the number of worshippers, the worship times and any amplified music or noise."

Cr Dickson said it was important to note that it was not the role of the Planning Scheme - or indeed Council - to make judgements on matters of religious observance. 

"All individuals in Australia have the right and expectation to practise their chosen religion in a peaceful and non-threatening environment," he said.

"Regardless of our own personal beliefs, under the Sustainable Planning Act, neither council officers nor councillors can base their assessment of this application on direct or indirect discrimination.

"Planning law, like all law in Australia, is subject to tests for discrimination.

"Any decision on a development application may also be reviewed by the Planning and Environment Court, so there is absolutely no opportunity or discretion for council to deviate from assessing this application under the Sustainable Planning Act.

"May I suggest anyone wishing to comment on the establishment of mosques in Australia should convey their views to the Federal Government - either the Federal Member for Fisher, the Honourable Mal Brough MP or the Federal Member for Fairfax, Mr Clive Palmer."

Opponents vow to fight on

Lobby group Sunshine Coast Safe Communities, which includes representatives of Christian churches on the Coast, condemned the decision in a Facebook post.

"Council were between a rock and a hard place due to their own local planning laws....but they can amend these!,'' the post said.

"We believe the council were divided 50/50 in support and opposition even though community concerns were 'irrelevant' to this application.

"However, we believe our concerns are relevant and the Mayor and the councillor should recognise this with a public statement /press release.

"Are we angry? Yes

"..are we working to change this situation? Yes'.

According to the group, the council was not required to consider any objections to the mosque.

"No objections were relevant as this application was Code Assessed.

"This means as long as it complied to local planning laws, any community concerns are irrelevant to council..but not to community!!

Time to start lobbying councillors to make amendments! If you wish to help or want to know how...please PM us for details."

One objector queries whether burying a pig on the site would stop the mosque.

Sunshine Coast Safe Communities responded by saying: "This is a popular myth, and will achieve little, we encourage education and lobbying media and politicians, as the best way to effect.''

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