The childcare shortage is real, so what’s being done about it?

The rejected centre at 29 Marsden Road, St Marys.
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The demand for childcare in the area is evident with multiple Development Applications (DA) being submitted to Penrith City Council.

Despite providers wanting to establish centres, out of five DAs that were decided in the last month, Council has rejected all but one.

An 82-place childcare centre at 29 Marsden Road, St Marys, was refused last month along with a two storey 53-place facility at 23 Barker Street, Cambridge Park, this month.

The proposed construction of a centre for 47 children at 1 Phoenix Crescent, Erskine Park, was not approved and a DA for a three storey 70-place facility at 246 Carpenter Street, St Marys, is a part of ongoing court proceedings, which could be an attempt to overturn the rejection from Council.

Getting the green light was plans to demolish existing structures at 1 Jordon Street, Cambridge Park, and the construction of a childcare centre for 39 children.

The Statement of Environmental Effects said the 653 square metre site will have a two storey building on it that will include indoor and outdoor play areas.

“The facility will be run by six staff with the operating hours proposed to be 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays,” it said.

“The development proposes a total of 15 car spaces within a basement level. In addition, there is a dedicated turning bay.”

A Penrith City Council spokesperson said certain criteria must be met for a DA to be approved, with one common condition not being met by developers.

“Each DA is assessed against the relevant State and Local Planning requirements,” the spokesperson said.

“The common theme in the rejected applications are the sites are not suitable for the scale of development proposed.”

St Clair mother Amanda Latimore has had her 20-month-old daughter on seven waitlists across St Clair and Claremont Meadows since the week she was born and has not been able to secure a place for her.

“Originally I had her down for two days, thinking she would get in when she was around one, however now that she is nearly two, I’m needing her in more days so I can return to work,” Latimore said.

“All seven centres advised me that the reason she is still on the waitlists is because they take kids at risk first, followed by siblings of kids already enrolled in the centre, then single parent household and then new enrolments.”

Wanting to return to a minimum of part-time work as a high school teacher, Latimore said the need for more centres is paramount.

“I think Council needs to work with people to try and amend plans to make them more suitable or build extensions on current Council run centres to meet the demand of the community,” she said.

“Between the teacher shortage and increased living costs, I’m finding it incredibly frustrating at the lack of future planning.”

Emily Feszczuk

A graduate of Western Sydney University, Emily covers Local, State and Federal politics for the Weekender, as well as crime and general news.

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