5000 worshipper mosque plan in Sydney’s southwest cut to small prayer hall with maximum 139

5000 worshipper mosque plan in Sydney’s southwest cut to small prayer hall with maximum 139
(Monday, January 11, 2016) 15:56

A small prayer hall within a larger multipurpose community centre will replace an originally planned 5000 worshipper mosque.

IT was originally set to be a mosque to hold 5000 people, but scaled back plans for a prayer hall and community centre has been approved.

The complex, which will replace a warehouse in Padstow in Sydney’s southwest, got the green light in Land and Environment Court last Tuesday.

However it cannot be used as a huge place of worship as first planned by the Riverwood-based United Muslims of Australia.

Under a long list of conditions the 2000sq m facility, to be decked out with a gym, sport courts, classrooms and underground car park, can only hold 139 people at any one time.

Just one-tenth of the building will be set aside for prayer.

The siThe site of the proposed of the community centre on Enterprise Ave, Padstow.
The United Muslims of Australia raised $3,25 million for the mosque in 2014.

In handing down her decision, Land and Environment Court commissioner Sue Morris said she was “satisfied” it would not be used as a mosque.

In 2014, the not-for-profit UMA raised $3.25 million for what it advertised as a 5000-capacity mosque and community centre.

A development proposal which did not mention a mosque was submitted to Bankstown Council last June, but it was later referred to court after a decision was not made within a deadline of 40 days due to a lack of information.

Bankstown mayor Khal Asfour said the conditions on the project would “ensure the facility is constructed in strict accordance with development laws”.

Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman spoke up in defence of the community centre plan when the warehouse site was targeted by anti-Islam vandals in 2014.

The plan has constantly come under fire, including from the Australian Defence League.

A Facebook group, Stop the Mosque at Padstow, attracted more than 3600 followers. One member, Darryl McGarry, said the decision was “appalling”.

However several others leapt to UMA’s defence.

“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions and judgments and at the end of the day that’s exactly what they are, just opinions and judgments. I’m sure they won’t get in the way of any of the awesome work the people at the new community centre are planning to do,” Sarah Ismail said.

The Express contacted the UMA for comment.

Comment was also sought from a representative of the Stop the Mosque at Padstow group.

Lakemba Ali ibn Abu Taleb Mosque in Western Sydney. Picture: Hollie Adams
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