- The council rejected the application due to concerns from residents about increased traffic
- Residents said they welcome more child care options but not on the proposed site
- The developer is now seeking legal advice whether to challenge the decision in the Land and Environment Court
A Sydney-based property developer has warned investors could steer clear of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, after the Griffith City Council rejected its application for a childcare centre.
The area is considered to be one of the most diverse and productive regions in Australia and the proposed 121-child centre at Yoogali was last week unanimously knocked back by councillors, despite being recommended for approval by council staff.
Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi said there was "quite a deal of debate" over the proposal, which received 18 objections and was rejected for not being "in the public interest".
In a statement, managing director of the Hewlett Property Group, Ben Hewlett, said he was "perplexed" at the refusal.
"It brings into question future investment in the region for developers who are met with similar injustice, especially in uncertain times when workforce participation should be encouraged," he said.
Residents concerned about increased traffic
Yoogali resident James Hood said locals were worried about the location of the centre near a busy intersection.
"There are plenty of other blocks within 500 metres of that vacant block that would better suit the day care centre.
"They've got turning lanes, bigger blocks with more parking and off-road parking. It's not on a narrow street like Macedone Lane."
Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi acknowledges the need for more childcare in the city.(ABC Riverina: Rosie King)
Mr Dal Broi said the council hoped it could come to an agreement with Hewlett Property to build the centre elsewhere.
"There is a need for more childcare facilities in Griffith," he said.
"We would certainly like to encourage the proponents that if they don't pursue with this particular site then they look at another site. There is a need for it and we would encourage it."
Mr Hewlett said he was investigating legal action.
"The application was fully compliant with the relevant controls, which is why it was recommended for approval," he said.
"The councillors did not make a decision on fact or consultant advice. It was purely a political result on the personal opinions of councillors, which is a major concern.