An application for a planning permit to build a Buddhist temple in Gisborne has been refused.
The application, from Bill Jacobs Pty Ltd, proposed to build a “place of worship comprising a Buddhist temple and assembly building” at 125 McGeorge Road, Gisborne.
At last Wednesday’s council meeting, councillors and residents debated the issue for two hours.
Objections raised at the meeting included inconsistent use of a rural residential zone, traffic safety, environmental impacts, bushfire risk, car parking and the Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Vibe Town Planning principal Deb Dunn showed councillors a series of photographs of the dwellings, including a shed, already on the property.
“That shed is less than five metres tall …that is a huge shed [and] that is typical of the outbuildings that the people of this shire have,” she said.
“The proposed assembly hall and the proposed temple are almost just shy of double the height of this building and we’re told that this is going to fit in a landscape.
“There are only two buildings that I can find in the Macedon Ranges shire that are 9.5 metres tall.
“We … are supposed to find it acceptable to have the equivalent of a three-storey building in the middle of a significant landscape overlay in Gisborne South.”
The proposal stated the shed would be used for storage and the dwelling would continue to be occupied by the monks currently residing on the subject land.
The council received 52 objections to the proposal and four letters of support.
Council officers had assessed the permit against the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme and considered it to be appropriate.
“Just because you’re allowed to do something in a zone, doesn’t mean you have to,” Cr Jennifer Anderson said.
“There is that precautionary principle and if we have concerns … then we’re on the side of caution.
“Sometimes we make those difficult decisions to go against what our planning experts have advised us and we continue to have respectful relationships and we acknowledge what everyone is saying.”
She encouraged councillors to reject the planning permit.
Councillors Henry Bleak and Bill West voted against rejecting the permit.