Joint Development Assessment Panel blocks Margaret River ECEC service despite demand
The Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) has knocked back a proposal for a new early childhood education and care (ECEC) service in regional Western Australia after Margaret River Shire raised concerns about the build affecting the amenity and character of the residential area, the ABC reports.
Those in favour of the development said the facility was in an ideal location, in a growing area, and next to a primary school, however the Shire said the building would cause problems with noise and traffic, and was too large.
Had it been approved, the service would have provided education and care for 92 children in the growing suburb of Rapids Landing, around three hours south of Perth. State Government planner Justin Page said ECEC services “didn’t often find such an ideal location” and that the service was a much needed community asset.
Despite Mr Page’s perspective the Shire of Augusta Margaret River successfully lobbied the JDAP to have the proposal stopped, with Shire President Paula Cristoffanini telling the panel the centre wouldn’t fit in the residential area.
Ms Cristoffanini expressed concerns about the character of the build, saying “this is a very substantial childcare with a lot of children and staff, and I think it poses a great deal of amenity considerations for this residential area.”
The developer of Rapids Landing was also opposed to the proposal, and ultimately the JDAP voted 3-2 to deny the development of the $2 million facility, despite presiding member of the panel Tony Arias urging its approval.
“I have difficulty accepting that the amenity concerns are so significant that it would warrant refusal,” he said.
Speaking about the outcome of the hearing, Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Annie McFie said she was shocked by the rejection.
“It’s essential for our families locally to have childcare (sic.) to enable them to participate in the workforce,” she told the ABC. “It shouldn’t have to be so hard-fought.”
It is the third development application for a childcare centre in the South West to be rejected in about 12 months, leaving Kendall Galbraith, Chief Executive of the Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network of WA, disappointed.
“I think we really need to change some of this thinking because it should not be the case in today’s economic and social world that we must fight to get childcare in our community,” Ms Galbraith told the ABC.
Bunbury MP and Regional Development Minister Don Punch said local governments needed to be innovative to develop ECEC options close to residential areas, saying young families who have moved to regional WA need to be catered for.
“Instead of saying ‘it can’t be here’, let’s ask the question: Where can it be?” Mr Punch said.
“Too often we find a reason not to do something when it’s fundamentally important and we should be finding the reasons why we should do it.”
To read the original coverage of this story, please see here.
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