Council has forgotten it is there to ensure equal rights

Letters to the editor

I wish to comment on the article on the front page of edition 485. The article related a meeting of Gosford Council where Council approved the construction of nine three-storey flats in a narrow (12m wide) block that would normally have a single house on it, and possibly a granny flat at the back.

The Council has admitted that this development doesn’t comply with its own planning regulations. The proposal increases the population density of the block by 800 per cent, where other similar developments in the area have only increased by 200 to 300 per cent. It has less than the required parking places, so potentially 18 to 20 cars could require parking spots outside the block. The main impact of this overdevelopment will fall on the church next door.

The report from council said that “given the church was a nonresidential use no detailed controls specifically applied”. This means that the new flats can be built closer to the fence than if the church was a residence. Despite a gallery full of church community and a speaker presenting their arguments as to why this development will negatively impact on their activities, their concerns were dismissed without a mention. No debate took place.

The council approved the application without objection. I would like here to remind council of the importance of quality of life and individual wellbeing, how important these are to the health and happiness of the Peninsula community. Even if there are no rules to protect church people, they are human beings and deserve protection at least in accordance with basic human rights.

I know many practicing Christians. Church attendance provides them with support and belonging. Many are lonely, elderly and vulnerable people in our community. This building will put pressure on the church as a support system. The community will pick up the tab in the physical and mental health services. During Sunday services, weddings and funerals, hymn singing could disturb the neighbours who may turn up their TV to drown the sound.

Quiet contemplative prayer sequences could be disturbed with kids playing, cars starting or neighbours having domestic arguments. The new buildings are taller than the church so will overshadow the sunlight, cooling the church and dimming the light on the stainedglass windows. Churchgoers provide social services such as feeding or clothing homeless people, donating to all kinds of worthy charitable institutions, and providing a safe place for various groups to meet such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

I believe that disregarding human rights to churches and their worshippers is discriminatory and cruel. It is happening overtly and publicly right here under our noses. Are we going to allow our council to use the technicality of council law to bully defenceless and vulnerable people in our community?

Has the council forgotten that the law is there to give every person in the community equal rights, to protect the weak? It seems that this council has no real concern for community protection, only for untrammelled development and support of those driven by greed.

Email, 12 Jan 2020 Clive Salzer, Umina