Sydney rejects religious temples

Sydney, Austrailia - FIRST Camden didn't want an Islamic School, then Rosebery wouldn't stand for a Hillsong stadium and now a sleepy rural suburb north of Rouse Hill is campaigning against a Hindu temple.

All denominations have felt the wrath of local communities opposing religious development in Sydney, with the Hindu temple in Nelson the third pious building in as many months to be delayed on resident objections.

The temple's delay follows the latest incident of racist vandalism at Camden where the phrase "Aussie Pride 4 Life - Sand Niggas" was scrawled next to an Australian flag on the roof of a house on the planned Muslim school site.

Box Hill-Nelson Progress Association president John Higman said there was no place for the domed roof tops of the Hindu temple in a small, rural suburb that didn't even have town water, sewerage or roadside guttering.

"I don't have a problem with the Hindu people or their faith, there is definitely no racial problem out here," Mr Higman said yesterday.

"The building appears to be about three storeys tall with domes and flag poles on top of that, so the actual height is amazing.

"And then there are all the things associated with that, such as up to 200 people but only 50 car parking spaces."

Objections to size, capacity, and car parking - not religion - are the same arguments used by the Rosebery Residents Action Group against Hillsong's proposal for a 2700-seat auditorium and seven-storey office tower at the former RTA headquarters on Rothschild Ave.

Camden locals were less subtle, with a crucifix quoting Bible scripture and pig heads draped in the Australian flag.

Camden Residents' Group president Emil Sremchevich said yesterday he was lobbying state and local governments to change the law to allow a public vote to decide a development.

"Our rights are being denied because we have to go through this process. If the issue for a local community is significant enough there should be a referendum held to determine what happens," Mr Sremchevich said.

All developments will be decided in the next few months.

The application by the Shree Swaminarayan Temple trust is to build the temple and car park on half a 2ha block it bought for $1 million.

Temple trustee Karsan Kerai said he didn't expect to take Baulkham Hills Shire Council to the Land & Environment Court over the issue, as happened with the Annangrove Muslim prayer hall just around the corner.

"I think the neighbours are very good but they don't have the actual picture of what's going to happen and are worried about what it's going to look like," Mr Kerai said.

"I'm happy to meet with residents and we can certainly work around their comments and suggestions."