Multi-faith church gets green light – city council overruled

An application for a multi-faith church on the outskirts of Sunbury, refused permission by Hume City Council, has got the green light following a review by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Hume City Council had refused a planning permit for the land at 75 Mundy Rd, in part due to the appropriateness of the use, and the building design, in a Green Wedge Zone. The term ‘Green Wedges’ refers to the non-urban land that surrounds the outward development of Melbourne. This land is separated from urban areas by the Urban Growth Boundary which was put in place by the Victorian Government in 2002.

The planned church, on an eight hectare parcel of land, would comprise of internal alterations to an existing dwelling and garage to create administration and multipurpose areas, the construction of a multi-faith temple, and other various supporting infrastructure and works.

The planning application stated that gatherings or events will be held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with no more than 100 people in attendance. There’d be space for 31 cars.

A map of Sunbury, showing Mundy Rd top left.

Hume council’s key reasons for refusing planning consent was that:

  1. The proposal results in an unacceptable land use within the Green Wedge Zone, contrary to the purpose and decision guidelines of clause 35.04 of the Hume Planning Scheme
  2. The proposal limits the ability for land management and agricultural uses to be undertaken
  3. The built form will be unacceptably dominant within the rural landscape and is an inappropriate outcome for the site and surrounds
  4. The proposal is contrary to the orderly planning of the area

The VCAT decision states the church would not have a detrimental impact on the rural landscape of the Green Wedge Zone, that the church management is “acceptably responsive to adjoining land uses and would not be in conflict with them”, and would not prevent agricultural land use of the subject land or adjoining land.

VCAT’s Ian Potts states in his decision: “I conclude that the proposal represents an acceptable and orderly planning outcome.

“Accordingly, I will direct that the decision of the responsible authority [Hume City Council] be set aside and a permit be granted…”

Download the full decision here.