Backlog of development applications hampering availability
The Sector > Economics > Property > Backlog of development applications hampering ECEC availability in Sutherland Shire

Backlog of development applications hampering ECEC availability in Sutherland Shire

by Freya Lucas

January 09, 2024

The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader has commented on what it terms ‘a backlog of development applications (DAs) for early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in the New South Wales Sutherland Shire, which the paper says is impacting on the ability of families to access care. 


In the previous two years 16 DAs have been lodged for new services in the Shire, five of which were approved, three refused, one withdrawn, and seven still yet to be determined. 


Applicants, in some cases, are waiting more than a year for a decision about the future of their development. 


Only one application was approved in 2023, made by Stepping Stones Early Learning Centre, Kirrawee to extend into a neighbouring property. 


For Stepping Stones owner Neisha Pitt, the expansion is a vital one to meet the demands of the community. The Exceeding rated centre, she shared with the paper, receives daily calls from families seeking care for children two years of age and under. 


Due to be completed in mid 2024, the expansion will see a specialised nursery developed, with specialised customisation helping children to settle into a small homelike setting. 


Responding on behalf of the Council, a spokesperson told the paper that DAs for new ECEC services were complex to assess, particularly when in low-density residential zones, where the potential impact to surrounding residents is often markedly higher.


“Staff must carefully weigh the merits of any proposal to develop a childcare centre in these settings against the interests of surrounding residents, with increased traffic volume and demand for parking among the many factors that are taken into account,” the spokesperson said. 


The spokesperson said the Council is “committed to ensuring that these proposals are given the thorough, considered evaluation they are due to carefully balance the interests of commercial operators against the amenity of neighbouring residents.”


Access the original coverage of this story here. 

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