Wagga Wagga ECEC build at centre of battle between developer and Council

Wagga Wagga ECEC build at centre of battle between developer and Council

by Freya Lucas

February 17, 2022

A development application for a large early childhood education and care (ECEC) service in the regional New South Wales community of Wagga Wagga is the topic of much debate between the developer and the Council. 

 

Developers of the Riverina Kids Early Learning Centre argue that Wagga Wagga needs more childcare centres urgently while the Council is concerned about its potential impact on the neighbourhood of Springvale.

 

The 79-place service is slated for the corner of Lloyd Road and Plane Tree Drive and was discussed at a Council meeting held Monday, 14 February.

 

Should the development go ahead, it will create 13 jobs in the community, however the council is arguing that while the R5 (Large Lot Residential) zoning of the site permits development of this kind, the Council believes a childcare centre is “inconsistent with zone objectives, not in the public interest and resulting in unacceptable impacts to the neighbourhood”.

 

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” and have recommended the development application be refused.

 

The applicants, Mark and Diana Lajdes, also own the Riverina Kids Early Learning Centre in Lloyd. They presented their argument to councilors at the meeting, focusing on the high level of demand they have received since opening the Lloyd facility in 2020.

 

“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 the Lloyd service first opened it initially provided care for children aged from 15 months, but families were overwhelmingly requesting care for children aged six weeks and up. During COVID-19 the service entered consultation with existing families, which resulted in the addition of a nursery. The room opened in September 2020 and within days it was at capacity, reflecting the need for more care in the region, the owners said. 

 

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

 

A public consultation was held in relation to the proposal, with several submissions received in opposition to the application, which raised points ranging from wanting to preserve the peace and tranquility of the area to concerns about existing road quality and the issues that could arise from increased traffic in the area.

 

To watch the Council meeting, please see here

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