Childcare centre at threat

Saltwater Child Care Centre are pleading with the state government to stop the construction of a new multi storey healthcare centre. (Unsplash/Jamie Street)

Jennifer Pittorino

More than 70 families who attend Saltwater Child Care Centre are at risk of having to find another place to send their children if the state government approves a plan for multi-storey healthcare centre in Footscray.

As previously reported by Star Weekly the planning permit for the proposed use of the land at 5-11 Geelong Road, Footscray, was knocked back by Maribyrnong council in November.

Despite this refusal, the final decision lies with the state government given the large cost of the development proposed by Erica Heathcare Partners.

Now, centre director Nancy Casella is pleading with the state government to stop the build and keep her 19 staff members in jobs.

“We need specialist services but this spot is not appropriate,” she said.

“Our tight-knit community with this unique long standing staff is just going to be destroyed.“

For more than 30 years, Saltwater has nurtured babies and children, an integral part of the community according to Ms Casella.

“We are small but well known to the community,” she said.

“We are concerned about what will happen to us, what will the development do to our centre.

“If construction was to go ahead there is no way we could possibly operate during construction and post construction, so we have alot of safety corners.”

Ms Casella said the safety concerns include the addition of heavy traffic and privacy issues.

“It is going to be such a huge building, they will be able to look into the children’s playground area and overshadow the whole area taking away the natural light” she said.

“Where does that leave the privacy and the safety of our children that are in our care?”

“Not to mention the construction sounds and trembling, there is no way the children and babies will be able to sleep.”

The lack of community consultation is another thing troubling the Saltwater team.

“The communication was non-existent,” she said.

“We received a letter in the mailbox notifying us of the proposal and giving us an unreasonable tie to provide objections and feedback.”

A Department of Transport and Planning spokesperson said the plans for the proposed private Footscray facility are still available online.

“No decision has been made and we welcome submissions from the community which will be considered as a part of the decision making process.”

A spokesperson for Erica Healthcare Partners said “We do not wish to comment as the matter is currently being considered via the planning process”.