Rockingham Council recommends State Government panel cans Baldivis Hindu temple plans

Hannah CrossSound Telegraph
An artist's impression of the proposed Hindu temple in Baldivis.
Camera IconAn artist's impression of the proposed Hindu temple in Baldivis. Credit: Hayley Edwards/Facebook

City of Rockingham councillors have supported Baldivis residents’ calls for a proposed Hindu temple to be ditched after claiming the project will ruin their rural lifestyle.

A recommendation from the city’s planning and engineering services committee that the application be refused was passed unanimously at the April council meeting.

The $5 million development was proposed for 67 Folly Road and included a one-storey temple, multi-purpose hall, library, dining hall, and guest accommodation, as well as a pair of two-storey caretaker dwellings.

The development was debated at the planning and engineering services committee meeting on April 19, with the applicant and city addressing community concerns raised in public submissions.

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Minutes from the committee meeting said community concerns included:

  • “Noise associated with bell ringing, instruments and chanting associated with Hindu events” and the volume of people adversely affecting the “peaceful lifestyle of surrounding properties”
  • The “brightly coloured architectural adornments typical of a Hindu temple” being “visually obtrusive” and affecting the “visual amenity” of the surrounding area
  • Increased traffic, road network capacity and sufficient parking
  • The impact on wildlife, pets and horses on nearby properties
  • The impact on nearby Folly Pool and other water resources.

A common objection to the temple included the potential noise it would generate, with several submissions referencing “outdoor noise”, “noise associated with bell ringing, instruments and chanting” and noise management.

“There will be no outdoor activities occurring around the temple or the multi-purpose hall,” the applicant said.

“The few religious requirements such as circumnavigation of the temple twice a year do not involve any amplified noise or chanting, bell ringing or drumming.”

A map of the proposed development.
Camera IconA map of the proposed development. Credit: Supplied

The applicant also noted the temple would be predominantly “neutral limestone coloured” in response to submissions saying the Hindu temple would be “visually obtrusive”.

“The coloured adornments comprising of a neutral (palette) . . . which are not obtrusive within a natural rural setting characterised by blue sky, greenery and the various colours of the nearby rural sheds, will be hidden behind existing and proposed planting of mature vegetation,” they said.

City officers agreed, noting that the structures could be “substantially screened from the public domain by the existing and proposed trees”, but said the proposed landscaping could be compromised by the development’s bushfire protection requirements.

“While building height maybe acceptable, the city does have genuine concerns about the potential visual impact of development in the event the intended landscape screening outcomes cannot be delivered upfront or achieved,” they said.

Despite several community concerns being addressed, the committee recommended the application be refused because it was “inconsistent with the objective of the rural zone and inconsistent with the city’s rural land strategy”.

“The scale of the development is considered to be out of context for the area and is likely to impact the existing amenity of the locality by virtue of the proposed operational arrangements and visual implications,” a city report said.

The unanimous vote at the council meeting against the development was met with applause from the public gallery.

But councillor Mark Jones reminded the public that the council did not have the final call on whether the development will proceed.

“The community (needs to) understand that by council opposing the application tonight, it doesn’t mean it’s final,” Cr Jones said.

The recommendation will go to the State Government’s Joint Development Assessment Panel, which will decide to endorse or refuse the development application.

Deputy mayor Hayley Edwards encouraged people to submit a deputation to the panel.

The JDAP will assess the development and reveal its decision on May 9.

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