Child safety fears

Two car accidents in Applecross have locals worried about the location of a new child care centre.

TWO car crashes in the space of two weeks outside a soon-to-be-built Applecross child care centre have confirmed locals’ worst fears.

Nearby resident Donna Cargill says the accidents are proof the centre should not be built on the corner of Matheson Road and Cunningham Street, right beside the busy entrance/exit for the Canning Highway.

“During peak hour those streets are used as a rat-run to bypass the Canning Highway and it will be a major safety hazard,” she says.

“In one of the accidents, the car ended up on the land where the centre is going to be built.

“For the safety of the children and local residents, this centre should have never been approved.”

It’s been a long-running battle for The Applecross Residents Action Group, who submitted two petitions opposing the centre – which will have 67 children and 15 staff – when it came before Melville council.

Council rejected the centre because it was in a residential area, but it was ultimately approved by a local Development Assessment Panel this year.

Big rush

Ms Cargill says it’s frustrating that despite the feelings of local residents and council, the bureaucratic WA government DAP has the final say.

“It’s like, what do we do now? There’s been two bad accidents and that’s before all the increased traffic the centre will bring.”

Ms Cargill noted that council approved traffic impact reports submitted by the developer, despite residents’ concerns about traffic and tandem parking at the site.

Melville councillor Nick Pazolli says more and more child care centre developers are by-passing council.

“Over my past 13 years on council, I doubt that there have been more than a couple of new child care centre development applications,” he says. 

“However, in the last nine months there has been a spate of five new child care centre DAs – all electing to be determined by JDAP.

“I understand that there are similar numbers of child care applications occurring in some other metropolitan councils, seemingly driven by investors acting on the expectations of benefiting from the federal government’s announcement of $1.7 billion of Commonwealth funding for child care.

“Three of the five new child care centres are to be located on extremely busy primary distributor roads of Canning and Leach Highways resulting in local community concerns regarding road safety and health impacts for children attending these centres.”

Cr Pazolli added that he was working to get child care centres on primary distributor roads listed as ‘not permitted’ in the Local Planning Scheme 6 review. 

Melville council acting CEO Christine Young said WA local governments and residents did not have access to third-party appeal rights to decisions made by JDAPs.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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