Scientologists flock to old convent

Monee Valley Community News, Australia/August 14, 2007

The Church of Scientology has won approval to remove 24 trees and slash the number of parking spaces at its new state headquarters in Ascot Vale.

Debney Ward councillor Rose Iser told last week's Moonee Valley Council meeting that 43 spaces for 150 worshippers was adequate because the headquarters was opposite Essendon tram depot.

The church expected 250 people would attend major events at the former Sisters of Mercy Convent six times a year.

Permits have been granted for variety of religious activies, including sauna programs and counselling.

Councillors unanimously voted to approve a permit, saying the heritage building, vacant since 2000, would be preserved by the Scientologists.

Deakin Ward councillor Jim Cusack said there would be ''lingering doubt in the community'' about the impact of 250 people visiting six times a year.

He urged people to remember that students ''flooded'' the site when it was a Catholic university.

The church may operate from 9am-9.30pm Monday to Friday and 9am-11pm Saturday and Sunday.

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