Green light for childcare centre

By Ewen McRae

Melton council has approved plans for a new childcare centre in Brookfield, despite a number of objections from residents and councillors.
The council last week considered the application for a new centre on Clarkes Road, Brookfield, which when completed, would have space for 90 children, with council officers recommending the single storey centre be approved.
The council’s planning services manager Bob Baggio said the majority of the 24 community objections were about commercial intrusion into a residential area, and also concerns over congestion, but said a recent VCAT decision on a similar childcare centre in the area backed the council officers recommendation.
“We generally consider childcare centres, even though they’re not a residential use, they’re considered to be a use which is compatible to a residential area,” Mr Baggio said.
“There was a similar application that was considered by council last year … which was taken to VCAT, who supported council’s recommendation to approve the application.
“In their determination, VCAT said a child care centre provides a valuable community service and is a needed and necessary offering in today’s society.”
Councillor Ken Hardy raised an alternate motion to deny the application, saying the road services in the area would not cope with the increased traffic.
“There is a premise in planning that you don’t make things worse than it already is. The road is single and will not take the traffic. We know this as we’ve seen it in other areas.”
Cr Bob Turner said it was important for more childcare centres to be introduced to the region in order to keep up with growth.
“We have to look to the future,” Cr Turner said.
“There are 45 babies born every week in Melton, that’s two kindergarten classes, and this small centre will have places for 90 children, so four classrooms.
“Instead of denying services that we need in Melton, we should be encouraging the quicker duplication of this road, because it will happen. I can’t see any reason to deny this.”
The alternate motion was defeated by six votes to three, and the childcare centre was subsequently approved.