Islamic youth centre rejection may be appealed

Image: Star Weekly

The Islamic group backing plans for a youth centre at Hoppers Crossing will consider its options after Wyndham council refused a permit for the chosen site.

More than 100 supporters of the Australian Islamic Mission’s (AIM) proposal piled into council chambers on Monday night.

Council chief executive Kelly Grigsby accepted the proposed use of the Tarneit Road site but said its bulk and size led to the permit knockback.

Fuad Abdin, AIM’s project committee chairman, said the group would reconvene and discuss what to do next. Options included moving elsewhere and selling the existing site or downsizing the application.

Mr Abdin did not rule out objecting to the council’s decision at VCAT. “We are obviously disappointed with the decision,” he said. “We were hoping to have more support.”

He said there was a “big need” for a community centre with his group presently hiring community centres at Truganina and Hoppers Crossing three times a week.

He said the project did not propose a place of worship but a recreational centre combining sports and education for the whole community.

In support of the proposal, Cr Intaj Khan said Wyndham was growing and residents deserved a “fair place to practise their beliefs”, even though a place of worship was not part of the youth centre plan.

“We need more youth engagement community activities,” he said.

“If these people [youth] don’t engage in community activities they will get involved in all sorts of other things.”

Council youth portfolio-holder Marie Brittan agreed there was a need for more youth spaces but said it was important that the land use was in keeping with the amenity of the area.

Cr Michele Wharrie said she had “no objection whatsoever” to using the land for a youth centre. But she agreed the proposal, as it stood, was not compatible with, or sympathetic to, the area and would cause a loss of amenity to neighbours.

Council’s multicultural portfolio-holder, Gautam Gupta, urged council officers to work with the applicants to find an alternative outcome.