Highway childcare concerns

Willagee residents say a childcare centre next to Leach Highway and its semi-trailers is too dangerous. Photo by Steve Grant

ANOTHER childcare centre proposed alongside a major highway in Melville has nearby residents concerned about child safety and clogged streets.

Melville council is in the process of amending its town planning scheme to ban childcare centres fronting major arterial roads, but Land Holding Three has submitted an application for one catering to 79 children on the corner of Leach Highway and Worley Street in Willagee.

The centre could get around the new rule because the driveway would be on Worley Street rather than the highway, but residents say it’s still too dangerous because it’s on a steep hill used by trucks heading to Fremantle’s port.

“I am a truck driver and I come up that hill all the time, and if someone was trying to turn left or come out of Worley Street with a truck under full power trying to get up the hill behind them, there will definitely be collisions,” one resident told a crowd who gathered on nearby Winnacott Reserve on Thursday to discuss their concerns.

Lindsay Wishart lives near the development and says because there’s no right turn back onto Leach Highway, cars will be funnelled into their suburban streets.

A traffic impact study commissioned by Land Holding Three estimated 62 cars during peak hour in the morning and 32 in the afternoon.

“There is nothing in the crash record to indicate that the subject site already has a crash problem and there are no observed road safety concerns with respect to sight lines or location of the proposed access driveway that suggests this will change with the provision of the proposed child care centre,” the report found.

Pollution

Kelly Adams recently fought another childcare centre along Leach Highway last year and believes her research into the safety and health problems from pollution caused by placing them along busy roads was crucial in getting it knocked back.

Ms Adams says another concern is that the centre won’t be gated, and the community fears it will be a magnet for anti-social behaviour because it will be lit from the highway’s lights at night.

But her biggest concern remains the traffic, which she says is exacerbated in the area by parents waiting around Winnacott for high school students to cross the pedestrian bridge from Melville high school across the highway.

Councillor Karen Wheatland met the residents on Thursday and told them she had called for the application to be brought before council, to ensure it wasn’t approved by the council’s development assessment committee before being considered by councillors.

Although the centre’s fate will ultimately be decided by the state-controlled JDAP’s, Cr Wheatland said councillors could put in a strong recommendation for refusal.

She also offered to submit a petition to the council after residents collected 70 signatures during the consultation period, and to help them prepare a delegation when the centre reaches the agenda.

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