18 January, 2023
New church approved for Atherton CBD
A NEW church will be established in the centre of Atherton after Tablelands Regional Council approved the project despite some councillors having concerns over noise, and traffic and pedestrian movements along busy Robert Street.
The Atherton Family Church, which currently operates out of Holm Street, was given the green light to establish its new place of worship on a site in Robert Street which previously accommodated a service station, followed by a cleaning company.
Council received only two objections to the project based on concerns regarding increased stormwater volume, noise nuisance, car parking, and non-compliant public notification.
The project will involve the renovation of the existing building to utilise the ground floor for the place of worship and the floor above for a caretaker, with the church set to develop a car parking area to the rear of the site which fronts Evans Street.
However, the car park will not be completed by the time the church starts holding services due to financial circumstances.
“Unfortunately, there will be an increased traffic generation on Evans Street, especially on Sunday. There is little that can be done to address this concern as there is no space to provide on-site parking on Robert Street,” officers stated in the report.
For Cr Annette Haydon and Deputy Mayor Kevin Cardew, the sticking point was the potential noise nuisance for neighbours.
“There are residential properties surrounding this site so if we can mitigate that noise, it will reduce the impact on surrounding residences,” Cr Cardew said.
He put forward that sound proofing measures should be put in place to reduce the noise emanating from the facility, an earlier cut-off of 8pm for church services or other activities, and that no church services or activities by conducted outdoors or in the undercover areas if the main building.
Cr Bernie Wilce and Cr David Clifton were concerned about the restriction of activities outdoors, with Cr Wilce suggesting such conditions would be “over-regulating” and instead, council could rely upon “people’s common sense”.
But Cr Cardew argued that it was critical to have clear guidelines in place.
“We need control and clear guidelines to ensure the amenity of the surrounding residences – there’s no point in coming back later and having costly legal battles and council officers trying to regulate something that we could have easily mitigated (through the conditions),” he said.
However, councillors did not support all of Cr Cardew’s conditions, rejecting the banning of any activities outdoors, saying that would restrict them from doing simple things like having a barbecue.
The council approved the project with the conditions stating sound proofing of the auditorium must be done to council’s satisfaction and that the church must get council approval in writing to host any services or activities beyond 8pm.