Buddhist place of worship proposed at Wallacia

Proposal: The Vietnamese Society of NSW, which has a temple at St Johns Park, want to build a place of worship and accommodation at Wallacia. Picture: Chris Lane
Proposal: The Vietnamese Society of NSW, which has a temple at St Johns Park, want to build a place of worship and accommodation at Wallacia. Picture: Chris Lane

A proposal to build a Buddhist temple at Wallacia has some residents concerned about the site’s suitability.

The Vietnamese Buddhist Society of NSW want to build a worship hall, statue and various dining and meditation buildings including 35-bedroom accommodation blocks.

Wollondilly Council is assessing the application which is for a 22-hectare site at 590 Bents Basin Road, Wallacia.

The development is proposed to be built in three stages, starting with the worship hall, an accommodation block, garden and a ten-metre high Buddha statue.

Stage two involves accommodation and a dining hall and stage three is more accommodation and a car park.

If approved, monks will live in and take care of the site.

The society also want to host four religious events per year on weekends for a maximum of three days. They expect 250 to 300 people will attend those events.

Wallacia resident Nick Katsoulis said he did not support the proposed development. He was not concerned with the current set up, which includes a house and small temple.

“I am worried the site will be used for religious events more than what is proposed,” he said. “I don’t feel like the proposal’s accommodation fits in with the purpose of the land, which is for primary production.”

The council’s planning director Chris Stewart said the proposal went on public exhibition last year and the council received three responses from concerned residents.

“Issues raised include the inconsistent character of the development with the surrounding rural area, reduction in property values and impact from traffic, dust, noise and odour,” he said.

I am worried the site will be used for religious events more than what is proposed.

Nick Katsoulis

In the 2016 Census data, Buddhism did not feature in the top responses for Wollondilly residents’ religious affiliations. Catholic was the largest group at 30 per cent and 3 per cent of residents identified as Uniting Church, which was the smallest group in the top responses.

Mr Stewart said the council would likely determine the outcome of the proposal because it did not have “triggers” necessitating referral to the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel.

He said council officers had requested a traffic assessment because the site was not located within 400-metres of public transport. Mr Stewart also said the place of worship was permitted under the primary production zoning.

A society spokeswoman did not want to comment until the application was assessed.