Orange Grove residents aghast at JDAP decision to allow church

Church not welcome here: Concerned residents Rodney and Nathan Smith at the site of proposed church
Church not welcome here: Concerned residents Rodney and Nathan Smith at the site of proposed church

ORANGE Grove residents are aghast over the approval to construct a place of worship in the rural suburb.

The community is outraged that a Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) has approved plans to build a church on Kelvin Road, less than six months after the committee refused the initial application.

City of Gosnells councillors Julie Brown and Ron Mitchell voted against the application, submitted by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church of Australia, but were out-numbered.

Local resident Andrew French said he had fought long and hard against the church as he felt it would negatively affect the community.

“Effectively, this is a rural area and if that church is built, it’s not a rural pursuit and it doesn’t add to the area,” he said.

“What’s the point of elected officials who we pay our rates to if they’re going to be overruled?”

Michelle Smith said she moved to Orange Grove to enjoy the rural community.

“It’s not about religion, it’s about protecting this tiny pocket of rural beauty we have,” she said.

“On the other side of the Tonkin Highway, near Thornlie, there’s a whole lot of empty space for sale, why aren’t they going there?”

Her husband Rodney said he feared the decision would open the floodgates for similar infrastructures.

“Once you allow one place of worship, it will have a flow-on effect, you will get all sorts of people putting their places on the market to accommodate that demand and Orange Grove won’t be known in the future for its horses,” he said.

Residents also submitted objections to JDAP ahead of the February decision and argued the church would bring a heavy flow of traffic and would ruin the area’s peacefulness.

The JDAP initially refused the application on the grounds its use would exceed what could be reasonably expected within the rural area.

However, an amended submission which included a reduction in the footprint floor area of the hall from 1575 sqm 680 sqm and a revised bushfire plan and acoustic reports was accepted.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church of Australia could not be contacted for comment.

The City of Gosnells had previously voted against the application and recommended the JDAP refuse the development.

Acting chief executive Grant Bradbrook said there were other locations which would have been more suited to the development.

“The City believes there are locations within its boundary that are more appropriate for places of worship,” he said.

Mr Bradbrook said the City had attempted to amend their planning scheme to prevent development such as this one, but the Western Australian Planning commission refused to allow it to be finalised.

He said the City was drafting up new amendments to their town planning scheme it was important to keep areas like Orange Grove rural.

“For Orange Grove, one of the key aims is to maintain the rural character of the land, this area has come under significant pressure in recent years, with multiple applications for the approval of large scale places of worship.”