THE need for an 1130-seat auditorium at a Balcatta church proposed to hold a maximum of 375 people drew suspicion from Stirling councillors.
Council refused Living Faith Community Church’s application for a three-storey church on Mumford Place at its February 20 meeting because of a parking shortfall of 254 bays.
The City previously refused the plan in August but was ordered to reconsider it after the applicant appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal.
The City’s report said the applicant suggested they had access to 218 parking bays within 400m to 900m of the church and during public question time Pastor Leanne Shaw said they received a letter from a nearby business owner who was “delighted” to have churchgoers use the business’ parking space on weekends.
But planning director Ross Povey said reciprocal parking required a formal arrangement such as legal agreement or restrictive covenant.
According to the report, a “major parking problem” would occur if the development proceeded because the 87 on-site bays was well short of the 341 required, the church planned to operate on weekdays during normal office hours, there were no footpaths and it was likely people would park on surrounding roads and verges.
Councillors’ main concern related to the size of the auditorium despite assurances from the church only a couple of hundred people would likely attend at any time.
Cr Giovanni Italiano believed it would cause “detriment to surrounding businesses” and Karen Caddy said they had to assume the church planned to cater for more than a thousand people in the future.
“The number of seating is just too many for the location,” she said.
Cr Adam Spagnolo supported the proposal as he believed most visitors would attend on weekends and that they were families not “hooligans”.
The report said the City may have to defend its position at a full tribunal hearing, which could cost more than $20,000.