Childcare centre denied

By Steph McNicol – 

A permit to build a childcare and medical centre in Romsey was knocked back by Macedon Ranges Shire Council.

At a council meeting on Wednesday, councillors were divided over granting the planning permit for the centre in Poplar Drive and resolved to refuse the planning application on the grounds it was ‘inappropriate’ for Romsey.

Deputy Mayor Mandi Mees, Cr Henry Bleeck and Cr Roger Jukes voted in favour of the development while six other councillors, including Mayor Janet Pearce, voted against it.

The application proposed a childcare to accommodate up to 104 children with a maximum of 19 staff, and a two-storey medical centre with 11 staff – nine medical practitioners and two administration staff.

The application received 19 objections, regarding the appropriateness in accordance with the zoning of the land and key issues relating to noise, traffic and general amenity.

Concerns by community members included an increase in traffic, noise, safety of children, risk of accidents, height of the building, and whether the land was the appropriate site for the development.

Cr Natasha Gayfer moved to refuse the planning permit in terms of its scale, intensity, size and design.

“It’s not about whether or not Romsey needs more medical centres or childcares, I’ve often been the spokesperson for another medical centre here,” she said.

“It’s about whether this proposal before us is appropriate. The medical centre is not in keeping with the character of Romsey.

“We also need to consider the safety and the amenity of the proposal, the traffic created by the proposal, the safety of the children and the number of people coming and going from the centres.”

The proposal pointed out the development would be walking distance from the town centre; however, the provision of footpaths was not highlighted in the proposal.

Cr Mees disagreed with the refusal and argued the development would provide an essential community services.

“I understand the application may not match with the requirements regarding the set back of Poplar Drive, and the height of the building, but there could be a compromise,” she said.

“They would have to ensure the majority of the movement was on the site and not the street, and the height of the centre is in excess of the planning rules by one metre.

“They have tried to reduce the impact of the bulk of the building for the community. I sense the applicant has tried to achieve an improved new development.

“The character of the area is developing, and this application would serve the population with some very important community services.”