Traralgon childcare centre to go ahead

Coming soon: A new childcare development is planned to arrive in Traralgon. Photograph supplied



PARENTS may rejoice as Traralgon will soon get another childcare centre to help address huge shortages.

At the last Latrobe City Council meeting on Monday, October 2, council approved a planning permit for a childcare centre on Burns Street, Traralgon.

The single-storey childcare centre will cater for a maximum of 120 children from newborns to five-year-olds.

The 943.9 square metre development will also feature a 26 car space parking lot, business signage and an almost two-metre tall sound-reducing fence.

Traralgon is in a childcare crisis, where children under five outnumber open places in childcare centres by a factor of three or more.

In Traralgon alone, according to recent research by the Mitchell Institute, between 2.52 and 3.99 children compete for each childcare place, depending on the neighbourhood.

The approved planning permit for the childcare centre couldn’t come at a better time, as demand continues to increase.

According to council officer’s reports, Traralgon will see a 17 per cent increase of 0-6 year-olds from 2023 to 2040.

The statutory planning agenda was not without extensive debate from council.

After council advertised the application, it received 10 official objections of the proposed development.

The major local concerns were with traffic congestion, street safety, building facade conformity, noise impacts, removal of vegetation, property values and local business impacts.

Community traffic and parking concerns were on the forefront of opposing councillor minds.

Councillors Sharon Gibson, Dale Harriman and Melissa Ferguson all voted to oppose a planning permit.

Local traffic concerns have precedence in other councils, as earlier this year Wagga Wagga City Council in NSW knocked back a proposed childcare facility amid similar local concerns.

Cr Harriman originally supported the permit but changed his mind based on limited parking.

“Yes we need childcare facilities like no tomorrow, but we need them in better locations,” he said.

Cr Dan Clancy also had concerns with parking and traffic, but noted that council officers addressed these concerns in the full-scale report that endorsed the childcare centre plan.

Council officer reports found that the proposed centre was consistent with the Latrobe planning scheme and would “provide an easily accessible service to the surrounding community”.

The urban planner at Human Habitats, Keely Jennings, on behalf of the developers, spoke at council to address community concerns.

“(The centre will be) pretty capable of accommodating the proposed 120 childcare centre to fulfil the current demand for childcare centres in the broader Traralgon area,” she said.

Ms Jennings also said the design elements of the building would meet high urban design principles, with extensive landscaping and setbacks to help fit the building comfortably in a residential area.

Although the developer is yet to find a tenant for the building, standard hours of operation would be from 6.30am to 6.30pm from Monday to Friday.

With regard to traffic concerns Ms Jennings said the proposal is expected to generate 69 trips during the morning and 77 trips in the afternoon peak hours.

“Of those trips there’s around 40 and 20 trips respectively which will be unique,” she said

Ms Jennings said the 26 car spaces planned would be suitable, as those trips would largely be caregivers picking up and dropping off children.