Feb 1, 2021

Radha Soami Satsang Beas’ New Australian headquarters to be built in Carrum Downs

Jamie First
Herald Sun
July 21, 2016

Frankston Standard Leader
A CONTROVERSIAL religious centre that was rejected in Melbourne's outer east has been given the go-ahead in the southwest — but opponents have vowed to fight on.

A CONTROVERSIAL religious centre has been given the go-ahead, but opponents have vowed to fight on.

The Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) group’s new Australian headquarters will now be built in green wedge land in Carrum Downs after Frankston councillors voted seven to one in favour of the proposal.

The group had tried to build in Chirnside Park in 2014, but Yarra Ranges’ councillors rejected the application.

Tract Consultants’ town planner Luke Chamberlain, who is representing the multi-faith organisation, said if everything went to plan, construction would start by March next year.

He said the facility, at 2 Boundary Rd and 724 Frankston-Dandenong Rd, would feature a main hall measuring 80m by 60m, two secondary buildings, a caretaker’s house and a guest residence.

Mr Chamberlain said there would also be a vegetable garden and an orchard, as well as a large portion of the land dedicated to olive trees.

“It’s an ideal site for this type of use,” he said. “It’s surrounded on three sides by urban uses and it’s accessed from a major arterial, being Frankston-Dandenong Rd, so that ensures appropriate traffic management.”

But Defenders of the South East Green Wedge secretary Barry Ross said he would most likely appeal the decision at VCAT.

“Churches are places that should be in urban areas where the congregation is, not stuck out in the bush because it’s cheap land,” Mr Ross said.

“If we are going to start having massive churches dotted all around the Green Wedge, we won’t have a Green Wedge.”

Mr Ross said he had no issue with the RSSB, but felt their place of worship was “just in the wrong spot”.

“We’re not against religion. If it was in an urban area, we wouldn’t be opposed,” he said.

“We think it should be in the Carrum Downs built-up area or it could be in Frankston proper.”

He said the green wedge was meant to be about agriculture, conservation, recreation and an open rural landscape to give residents a break between urban areas.

“This sets a pretty dangerous precedent.”

Frankston Environmental Friends Network chair David Cross said the buildings would be bigger than the footprint of the local Bunnings store which, when it opened, was the largest Bunnings in the country.

“It will be an eyesore and stand out,” Mr Cross said. “The green wedges are a rural break between urban areas and this will just look like another industrial estate.”

He said this opened the door for other developers to do the same thing.

“South East Green Wedge is becoming more and more fragmented and if we lose it, it’s gone forever and we can’t get it back.”

North-West Ward councillor Glenn Aitken said people had to look at it in context.

“Even though it’s a large building, it only occupies a very small proportion of the overall land,” Cr Aitken said. “The rest of it is not being devoted to a hard surface of bitumen or concrete, but the reverse. It is being filled with agriculture — plants, trees and grass.”

He said it was a “less intrusive development” than what others would apply for.

“It’s not as if the whole land space is being occupied by an industry, for example, or being covered with housing or industrial activity.”

RSSB, originating in India, espouses spirituality under the guidance of a teacher and encompasses all religions.

Followers are vegetarians and abstain from alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.


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