14 February 2022

Councillors advised to reject Wagga Wagga childcare application as proponents argue strong demand

| Max O'Driscoll
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Riverina Kids Early Learning Centre

The Riverina Kids Early Learning Centre argues that Wagga Wagga needs more childcare centres urgently. Photo: Facebook.

Wagga Wagga City councillors are being advised to refuse a Development Application for a large childcare centre in Springvale because of its potential impact on the neighbourhood.

The proposal for a 79-children capacity centre, at the corner of Lloyd Road and Plane Tree Drive, will come before council’s next meeting on Monday, 14 February.

If approved, operators plan to hire 13 staff and construct a 21-space car park and driveways to facilitate the project.

While the R5 (Large Lot Residential) zoning of the site permits development of this kind, council staff have described the childcare centre as being “inconsistent with zone objectives, not in the public interest and resulting in unacceptable impacts to the neighbourhood”.

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They believe approval would create conflict between land uses within the zone and say it fails to contribute to the streetscape and natural environment positively, a guiding principle of the Wagga Wagga Development Control Plan 2010.

Council staff also raised concerns regarding traffic impacts, acoustic privacy and the potential for setting “an undesirable precedent for non-residential types of development within the R5 zoned areas which is not in the public interest”. They have recommended the DA be refused.

The applicants, Mark and Diana Lajdes, are the owners of the Riverina Kids Early Learning Centre in Lloyd. They will present their argument to councillors, which will focus on the high level of demand they have received since opening the Lloyd facility in 2020.

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“Our centre is currently operating at 100 percent capacity and our waitlist has grown significantly,” a Riverina Kids spokesperson wrote. “We have a mixture of requests from our existing, new and defence families currently on the waitlist. On average, I will receive three to four enquiries daily for new enrolments with enrolment forms being sent out and returned to join our ever-growing waitlist.

“When opened, we initially provided care for children aged from 15 months, overwhelmingly we had our families requesting care for children aged six weeks and up. During COVID … with consultation with our existing families, we decided to add a nursery. Our room opened in September 2020 and within days it was at capacity.”

“We believe that Wagga requires a new early childhood centre as the market and demand is increasing.”

Council has received several submissions opposed to the application, which raised points ranging from wanting to preserve the peace and tranquillity of the area to concerns about existing road quality and the issues that could arise from increased traffic in the area.

The council meeting can be watched live on the City of Wagga Wagga website, from 6 pm Monday, 14 February.

Original Article published by Max O’Driscoll on About Regional.

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