I wrote last year about the proposed Islamic school for the town of Camden in New South Wales. Local residents who protested the plans for the school were subjected to the usual stigmata of “racism”, “Islamophobia”, etc.
The latest news from Down Under is that the school’s opponents have prevailed in court:
Camden Islamic School Plans Turned Down by NSW Land and Environment Court
THE proposed Islamic school near Camden has been rejected by the NSW Land and Environment Court.
The Quranic Society launched an appeal over the application after Camden Council turned down the plans in May last year.
Commissioner Graham Brown upheld Camden Council’s decision to turn down the Quranic Society’s application this morning.
But the grounds for the rejection of the school are worrisome.
It would have created a useful precedent if the school’s application had been denied on the basis of its being a threat to traditional Australian values and liberties, since it represents a subversive totalitarian political ideology. Instead, the school was turned down on technical grounds:
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Commissioner Brown said he rejected plans for the school on Burragorang Rd because the development would not be in keeping with Camden’s rural character and heritage.
The commissioner agreed with Camden Council’s decision last year and rejected the school plans pursuant to objectives C and E of the site’s 1(a) zoning.
This leaves the door open for a newer version of the school in a different location, one which accords in all details with local zoning laws.
But there is some evidence that public opinion is having an effect:
He also said some public interest arguments, presented to the court by Camden community members, were taken into consideration.
Camden Mayor Chris Patterson said he never doubted what the court’s decision would be.
“The commissioner said he based the decision on planning grounds like council did 12 months ago,” he said.
“I feel very happy that the council’s decision has been vindicated by the court.
“I never questioned the outcome because I always believed we’d done the right thing.”
The council’s solicitor Chris Shaw welcomed the decision.
“Council’s original decision has been considered the correct decision based on the assessment of planning issues only,” he said.
He said public interest issues had been given “very little weight” by the court, and that whether or not residents arguments against the school constituted racism was a matter for Camden.
Quranic Society expert planning adviser Jeremy Bingham said there was no case for further appeal as the finding was based on “fact not law”.
“The commissioner found against the school on one very specific and limited ground which was that the school was urban in character and therefore not in keeping with the existing rural character of the area which was the character of open grazing lands,” he said.
“One of the objectives of the zone was to allow development only if it is in keeping with the existing character.
“All of the other grounds raised by objectors were rejected.
“The society is very disappointed. It has put a lot of time and effort and a lot of money into this. It has been a long process.”
But I don’t think we’re done with the Quranic Society yet. Camden residents would be well-advised to remain alert.
Hat tip: Nilk.