Darlinghurst Childcare Centre Consultation

(4pm 29 February 2012, Heffron Hall, Darlinghurst)

Hello, everyone, and welcome. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up this city.

In March 2008 Council completed on a City East community facilities study and endorsed a number of projects.

These include:

  • Refurbishing the Burton Street Tabernacle as Eternity Playhouse, a 200-seat theatre with gallery and café. Heritage restoration is complete, with the final stage of construction due to be complete early next year.

  • Redeveloping Heffron Hall to provide for community rooms, rehearsal space, and out of school hours care. Following consultation last year, the City is completing a design, with construction scheduled next year.

  • Creating a new cultural hub in Council properties in Oxford Street, with the launch just this week of new work and retail spaces for emerging artists and creative groups. We've also endorsed new artist live/work spaces in Council-owned properties in William Street.

  • Improving the Juanita Nielsen Centre, including for children's, youth and over 55's programs. We are now developing preliminary designs.

  • Expanding the Kings Cross Library into an additional level to provide a new reading lounge, improved children's section and computer training area. It's due to open later this year.

Another commitment was to increase the number of childcare places.

Childcare - especially long day care - is a growing need in our city. This reflects the changing demographic as more people with young children live in the city.

In response to this growing demand, we bought the former warehouse at 277 Bourke Street in 2010, chosen for its potential to accommodate a not-for-profit childcare centre.

In this densely populated area, it is extremely difficult to find suitable sites that can meet the legislative and practical requirements for childcare. Part of the attraction of this location was the rare outdoor play space across Berwick Lane, the John Birt Memorial Playground.

Outdoor play space is an essential requirement for any new childcare facility.

Last year, Council considered a proposal to close part of the Lane to allow young children to safely move between indoor and outdoor areas. Residents raised concerns about loss of public access and Council engaged design consultants to investigate options which could maintain public access along the lane while giving children access to the outdoor play area.

Today, we will present some alternative proposals so that you can give us feedback on which you think might provide the best solution, and why.

The project team are here and you will be able to provide your feedback to them.

We want to come up with a solution that works for everyone - local residents and businesses, and the children who'll come to the centre.

Your feedback today will be worked into a concept design for the site. That will be on public exhibition late next month or in early April, when another community meeting will be held so that you can comment on the proposed design.

After that, your comments will again be incorporated into a refined plan which will be presented to committee meetings - where community members can again have your say - around May.

Then it will go to Council.

We will ask for your feedback at every step of the process and we will keep you informed on how your views have shaped the final proposal.

So now I'd like to hand over to Sharon Campisi, Manager Children Services, and then Elizabeth Sandoval, Senior Design Manager, who will explain in more detail about the options on display here today.