Council moves forward with plans to ban churches in the Swan Valley

Council moves forward with plans to ban churches in the Swan Valley

THE City of Swan council is moving forward with plans to ban places of worship in the Swan Valley in a bid to protect the rural character of the region.

Swan mayor David Lucas said the change has been almost a decade in the making, with the City and state governments considering relevant planning laws over the years to determine measures to better protect the future of the area.

Cr Lucas said the decision proposes better regulation of land uses with the Swan Valley Rural Zone for the purpose of supporting the traditional agricultural activities and protecting the rural character of the area.

“The Swan Valley is a beautiful and irreplaceable asset, and our priority is to ensure its viticultural, agricultural and horticultural traditions are upheld and preserved for future generations,” he said.

“It is also our priority to ensure uses incompatible with the rural character and traditional agricultural activities of the Swan Valley Rural Zone – in line with the objectives of the Swan Valley Planning Act – are discouraged.

“We have proposed a package of measures we consider to be consistent with the recommendations of past government reviews.

“These measures will restrict certain land uses in the Swan Valley Rural Zone, including places of worship, because the proliferation of these uses will erode the rural character of the area.

“These land uses will still remain a discretionary use in other areas of the Swan Valley.”

Cr Lucas said the amendment would not prevent the ongoing operations of the places of worship already in the Swan Valley Rural Zone.

WA Liberal Democrats MP Aaron Stonehouse has signalled that he will move to disallow the proposed local law.

“Bans like this have no place in a modern Australia,” he said.

“If church isn’t your thing. Fine, don’t go to one.

“But, to pass a blanket law that prohibits other people from practicing their faith, is totalitarian in the worst possible sense.

“There’s over a thousand square kilometres in the City of Swan. Anyone who says that a small chapel, temple or mosque will ruin the aesthetic of the area is kidding themselves.”

Mr Stonehouse called on Planning Minister Rita Saffioti to reject the proposal.

“In the event that she doesn’t, I am more than prepared to move a motion to disallow it,” he said.

The proposed amendment will now be referred to the Western Australian Planning Commission and Environmental Protection Authority to determine that it is satisfactory before a 60-day public advertising process can occur.

The outcomes of public consultation will then be reported back to Council to determine if it supports or rejects the amendment, and then submitted to and the Minister for Planning who will make the final determination.