Child care for East Sydney

In November, Council endorsed my Lord Mayoral Minute to fast track completion of six new child care centres within the City of Sydney local government area.

This week, Council resolved to proceed with the first of these new child care centres at 277 Bourke Street, Darlinghurst, and retain ownership of 222 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, to provide new open space.

A new design solution has been developed by City staff and consultants with a sub-committee of our Design Advisory Panel.

I presented that proposal to approximately 70 people at a public meeting at Heffron Hall on 1 December. The majority were residents of streets surrounding the proposed child care centre, including many residents of Berwick and Palmer Lanes.

The new design solution involves:

  • Placing childcare on the top three floors of 277 Bourke Street and community space on the lower ground floor;
  • Linking the indoor play space on the first floor of the childcare centre with the John Birt Memorial Playground via a light-weight raised walkway over Berwick Lane that connects to a raised playground area that in turn links to an upgraded playground area at a lower level;
  • Demolishing the existing Frances Newton Kindergarten building at 222 Palmer Street to provide a new green space;
  • Retaining Berwick Lane as a pedestrian link between Bourke Street and Palmer Lane;
  • Improving the public domain along sections of Bourke and Liverpool Streets adjacent to the building, as well as improvements along Palmer Street, Berwick and Palmer Lanes adjacent to 222 Palmer Street and John Birt Memorial Playground.

The benefits of the design include:

  • Keeping Berwick Lane open and maintaining pedestrian access between Bourke Street, Palmer Lane, Berwick Lane and Palmer Street;
  • Maintaining Berwick Lane as part of the Darlinghurst Laneways network and heritage conservation area;
  • Relocating and redesigning the raised ramp;
  • Providing childcare with outdoor play spaces that have access to the natural environment, daylight and roof gardens;
  • Improving safety by activating Berwick Lane with a new community space on the lane;
  • Creating a new green corridor running from Bourke Street to Palmer Street;
  • Grouping facilities together in a sympathetic way to foster community-building activities and local collaboration - a childcare, community space and open space with the potential to be a community garden.

Participants at the meeting received the revised proposal positively, endorsing the new approach and thanking Council for responding to their concerns.

Our staff recorded other issues that will continue to be considered and addressed as the design is refined and a development application prepared, including concerns about parking and drop off space, and cycling safety

The revised designs will be made available online and further community consultation will occur next year, including planning for the new green space and consideration of the proposal for a community garden.

City staff aim to lodge a Development Application in the first half of 2013 and I committed to hold another public meeting to discuss the refined designs at that time.

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