Brethren set to get nod for Diamond Creek hall

Diamond Valley Leader, Australia/May 9, 2009

An Exclusive Brethren prayer hall with capacity for up to 2000 people in Diamond Creek is set to be approved by Nillumbik Council.

The council's planning and building committee last week voted four to three to allow the Diamond Creek Rd development, which will act as a new Melbourne headquarters for the Christian sect.

The proposed permit will allow the site to cater for gatherings of up to 1200 people on a weekly basis, and up to 2000 people five times a year.

The proposal attracted staunch opposition from nearby residents whose objections included the size of the development, early gatherings on weekends, increased traffic, noise and light spillage.

Mayor Bo Bendtsen supported the application saying that while it was a very large complex, it was permissible under local planning policies and probably a better outcome for the empty site than other potential uses such as a service station.

He said the Brethren had proven to be good neighbours at the three prayer halls the council had approved in recent years.

Cr Belinda Clarkson agreed and said it would be "reckless" to knock back the application knowing it would probably get through at the state planning tribunal.

Cr Michael Young voted against the proposal because he believed the building was too big.

He said it would be better described as an "auditorium" and was designed to mainly cater for people from outside Nillumbik.

Cr Ken King said he was especially concerned about up to 1200 people arriving at functions during peak hour.

The application will be voted on at next week's council meeting.

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