The NSW Land and Environment Court has approved a development application to build an Islamic School in the Sydney suburb of Bass Hill. The Bankstown Council which had the authority to approve the application declined to do so. The reasoning for the failure to garner approval was allegedly traffic and noise concerns. Each of the concerns was listed in some 1800 objections that were lodged opposing the development. The failure to approve the development project also led to the appeal to the Land and Environment Court.
Although there were a considerable number of objections, it must be noted that there was also considerable support for the school with some 600 statements of support being lodged with the Council.
The fact that it is to be an Islamic School was never the officially stated reason for the rejection. However, the lawyer representing the developers pulled no punches in suggesting that this anti-Muslim sentiment was a strong undercurrent to the desire to thwart and ultimately reject the development application. This was supposedly supported by the idea that the majority of the 1800 objections were photocopied pro-forma objections that really only required objectors to fill in the blanks.
The Senior Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court wondered in his judgment whether there would have been the same number of objections had the school development application been lodged by an Anglican Church consortium looking to develop a similar size school.
Ultimately, the Land and Environment Court has approved the development application and ordered some minor changes to be made to allow for some additional landscaping to be included on the site.
It is expected that with the approval to develop now in place that the school will be built quickly.
I have written on this before and you can find it here.