All new Adelaide office buildings should save top 2 floors for ECEC, councillor says

All new Adelaide office buildings should save top 2 floors for ECEC, councillor says

by Freya Lucas

March 14, 2022

Adelaide City councillor Anne Moran is pushing for all new office buildings in the city to reserve their top two floors for early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in a bid to create more vacancies in the CBD to cater for working parents. 

 

Ms Moran took her motion to a Council meeting early last week, proposing that the Council should write to the state government to ask for the change to planning policy. While ECEC services are allowed to be built in multi-storey buildings in South Australia the Metropolitan Fire Service recommends they be located on the ground floor, or at least no more than 25 metres above street level because of concerns about evacuating quickly.

 

The councillor has been a long time advocate of the idea of ECEC services in high rise buildings, supporting similar moves to encourage childcare developments in the CBD in 2013, 2016 and 2019.

 

Her argument is that the top floors of skyscrapers often have unused space, and that the roofs of these buildings offer outdoor spaces for children to access, rather than being unused as they are currently.

 

“If we made a planning rule that every new skyscraper had to have the ability to put a childcare centre at the top, I think we’d find a lot of childcare businesses taking that up,” Ms Moran told the ABC. The new Market Square tower being built in Adelaide includes a childcare centre, and tall buildings interstate in NSW and WA commonly feature such services. 

 

The National Construction Code, however, discourages ECEC centres being too far off the ground because of the distance to evacuate in case of a fire or another emergency, something which is a concern for Australian Childcare Alliance SA President, Kerry Mahony. 

 

“The problem is even if you can evacuate them down the stairs, there’s got to be a holding area for the children when the staff go back up to get the rest of the children.”

 

“I just think the whole thing from a child safety point of view is very dicey, to be honest,” he added, also voicing concern about parents having difficulty securing parking to pick up and drop off children safely.

 

In preparation for the meeting Ms Moran told the ABC she had hopes that the motion would be successful given that Councillor Alexander Hyde is on a leave of absence while he runs for the state seat of Waite, leaving his faction with only half the councillors, not a majority.

 

During the meeting Ms Moran requested the administration to seek appropriate planning policy changes with Plan SA to require or incentivise that new office buildings being constructed to be designed to accommodate a childcare facility, pending the outcome of the current survey supporting the need of this service. 

 

The motion was then put and carried. Councillor Moran requested that a division be taken on the motion, which was upheld with eight in favour and one against.

 

To access the ABC coverage of this story please see here

PRINT