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Child care centre approval raises concerns

Residents have raised concerns at the approval by Sutherland Shire Council of a child care centre at Coonong Road, Gymea Bay which had been recommended for refusal by the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel.
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The two-storey centre will accommodate 45 children aged between 0 and six-years and operate Monday to Friday between 7am and 6pm.

It will be located in a cul-de-sac about 80-metres from to Gymea Bay Public School.

There were 38 submissions opposing the development with residents raising concerns at the suitability of the site for a child care centre, the traffic impact, particularly on the nearby school, and the noise and amenity impact from the centre.

The council’s submission found that some objections were ‘’irrelevant or unreasonable” but the outstanding traffic and safety concerns were relevant and asked for an assessment by traffic engineers.

The proposed centre was considered under the LEP 2006 which did not comply with because it was in a dead end street.

There is one entry point to Coonong Road off Gymea Bay Road which provides vehicular access to more than 60 residences.

But the council’s traffic staff found that the surrounding road network would be able to accommodate a low intensity child care centre.

Because basement parking was recommended to be reduced from 11 to nine spaces, staff recommended that the capacity of the staff be reduced from 45 to 36 children.

Council staff concluded that the site and locality was capable of accommodating the proposed child care centre with no significant traffic, safety or adverse amenity impacts on the locality and adjoining properties subject to suitable amendments and supported approval.

But councillors referred the the matter to IHAP on December 14 because of the 38 objections by residents.

The residents attended the IHAP meeting on January 19 with a number of them speaking.

The IHAP decided to refused the development application by four votes to 0.

But Sutherland Shire Council rejected the independent panel’s concerns and approved the development application on February 4.

Resident Stuart De Nett said the decision was met with disbelief by residents.

“The IHAP meeting was full to capacity and the council’s general manager, Scott Phillips was present to listen to their concerns of the residents,’’ he said.

“Residents were particularly concerned about the safety of school children given the road is already at capacity due to the close proximity to Gymea Bay Public School, 80-metres away.

“The IHAP committee voted 4:nil to refuse the application based on multiple instances of non-compliance with SSLEP 2006 and DCP 2006.

“The decision by the general manager highlights a definite power shift that is occurring within the council to take away the voice of residents as well as Labour and Independent councillors from input into any development application that goes before council.

“While councillors can still refer a DA to IHAP when then is sufficient resident interest, the IHAP forum is now the only means by which residents can express their concerns in relation to a submission and, most concerning, these decisions are no long debated at full council meetings. Shire residents are the losers.’’

A Sutherland Shire Council spokeswoman said that the application was determined following a rigorous assessment of the development against applicable planning controls.

“While accepting that there are different opinions as to the impact of the proposal, the development was deemed acceptable subject to compliance with strict conditions.’’

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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