Sect gets nod for 2000-seat church at Diamond Creek

Diamon Valley Leader, Australia/April 14, 2010

By Raelene Morey

Diamond Creek will be home to a 2000-seat church after controversial religious sect the Exclusive Brethren won the support of the state's peak planning tribunal.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the church would have minimal impact on neighbours despite Nillumbik Council's judgment that it was out of character for the area.

More than 50 residents objected to the proposed Diamond Creek Rd development in June last year, citing concerns over traffic congestion and noise.

Under permit conditions the church will be allowed gatherings of up to 1200 people each week and up to 2000 people five times a year.

Cr Michael Young said he was disappointed with the tribunal outcome and maintained the church was a poor fit for the neighbourhood.

"It's a residential area, everything else is residential so I suppose it's an amenity issue," Cr Young said.

"The fact that you've got an enormous auditorium with an acre of asphalt car parking is quite different in its character to a house, a driveway and some trees."

Exclusive Brethren spokesman Richard Garrett said the building and its congregation would blend smoothly into Diamond Creek.

Mr Garrett said the site would be landscaped and a proposed car park would cater for all the church's parking needs.

"Our congregation is active in the local community - we employ, work and live alongside people from many walks of life," Mr Garrett said.

"We look forward to continuing to live harmoniously with everybody in the Diamond Valley."

He said no date had been set for construction to begin.

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