PENRITH Council has asked the applicant proposing an Islamic school for the CBD to withdraw its application.
“Our assessment (shows) there are some significant constraints with the property,” council’s development services manager, Peter Wood, said during Monday’s council meeting.
Mr Wood said council had received advice from Roads and Maritime Services before urging the applicant to withdraw.
Among the concerns were the proximity of an emergency point to a busy road and possible safety problems during pick-up and drop-off.
Councillor Marcus Cornish said he was “over the moon about this” and added that while the report showed there were “150-odd” submissions, he had a similar number of opinions just in his phone.
Penrith mayor John Thain called it an urgent motion before councillors voted unanimously in its favour.
The applicant for the new $1.1 million independent school, Irfan College, said they would not withdraw the application. Instead, they would make amendments to ensure council compliance.
“We just got back to them yesterday (on Monday) that we will be going ahead with the application,” principal Ali Arabaci told the Penrith Press.
He said he felt fearful for the safety of his students following a community backlash against the school “based on hatred towards the Muslim community”.
The proposal before Penrith Council could see the empty Department Of Education and Training Penrith District Office on Henry St fitted out as an Islamic school for students in kindergarten to Year 12.
Irfan College currently has about 220 K-8 students on its books, a quarter of which commute from the Penrith-Mt Druitt area for their schooling but who would go to Penrith if the school is given the green light.
“I know there is going to be a rally (opposing the application) this Sunday,” Mr Arabaci said.
He was making reference to the Party For Freedom who, he said, had put “flames behind innocent children” in its flyers.
“It’s just unfortunate to see these kinds of developments,” he said.
“There’s a bit of bias over there (in Penrith) and there is a bit of prejudice and it’s concerning.
“We did also receive phone calls from the local community, from residents who aren’t from a religious faith background who were for the application.
“We thank and appreciate those citizens and community members who have an open mind and who have been welcoming to date with this application.”
He said under their revised plan school buses would drop students off on the campus, not outside.
“All of these things can be resolved, but it’s just a matter of if there’s a sincere (will) in making this happen,” Mr Arabaci said.
A council spokesman said Cr Cornish “has requested councillors be briefed on the LEP and DCP (plans) for Penrith and St Marys town centres with a view to exclude all places of worship and all secondary schools from both”.
■ Penrith Public School has existed since 1865, beginning in makeshift rooms leased by Donald Beatson
■ A school building was built in 1872 in Henry St where the school remained until 1917 when a new school was built in High St
■ The NSW Department Of Education and Training opened a district office on the Henry St site in 1991, closing the office in October 2015
■ The site was sold by Property NSW in November 2015