By DANIEL LO SURDO
The NSW Government has approved plans to sell land currently occupied by KU Laurel Tree House Children’s Centre in Glebe.
The impending sale of the Government-owned commercial property situated at 61 Arundel Street has been met by considerable opposition in the inner-city, with the Glebe community believing the sale to be severely misguided.
Member for Balmain Jamie Parker echoed the sentiments of his constituents.
“We are in a time of high demand for quality childcare,” Parker told City Hub.
“I’m calling on the Minister to cancel this sell-off and ensure that public assets are used for public purposes rather than sold for profit.”
KU Laurel Tree House has operated its childcare centre on Arundel Street for over 35 years. With the lease agreement expected to culminate at the conclusion of the year, alarm concerning the sale continues to rise in Glebe.
“The community have reacted strongly with a message that we don’t want the centre to be closed,” Parker said.
“Parents were shocked by the announcement and have rallied to support the centre along with community groups and local residents. This centre delivers an extremely high quality of care at an affordable price.”
Community opposition has also been conveyed to Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who has implored the State Government to reconsider its plans for 61 Arundel Street.
“The City recently learned of the NSW Land and Housing Corporation’s plans to sell the property and has been approached by several locals who are understandably upset and concerned about the plans,” a City of Sydney spokesperson told City Hub.
“The Lord Mayor has requested the Ministers [for Education and Water, Property and Housing] urgently investigate the retention of the property as a childcare centre and consult with the community to determine the level of support for the service at a local level.”
A need for childcare
The City of Sydney’s Child Care Needs Analysis, published in 2019, recognised the necessity of increased, high quality affordable childcare and education centres, especially considering the growing inner-city population growth expected in the next two decades.
The report predicts that the Glebe Point Road Village Area encompassing Arundel Street will undergo a 6.3 percent population increase by 2036 – a population growth requiring further high quality affordable childcare and education centres.
Whilst the land sale will precipitate the closure of the Children’s Centre, the NSW Land and Housing Corporation maintains the area will continue to serve critical segments of the state.
“Proceeds from the sale will be reinvested … into building new social housing to support vulnerable people and families in NSW on the waiting list,” a NSW Land and Housing Corporation spokesperson told City Hub.
Redeveloping inner-city social housing has been a high priority for the Land and Housing Corporation in the past 18 months, with five major projects in the City of Sydney – including two in Glebe – announced as part of the NSW Government’s Future Directions for Social Housing.
In the inner-city, expected waiting times for general applicants of social housing currently stands at 5-10 years for most properties.
Despite the reinvestment to be made to inner-city social housing, many Glebe residents remain vehemently opposed to the proposal.
An online petition against the Land and Housing Corporation’s proposal has attracted over 700 signatures, with aspirations to halt the sale and save the KU service atop the reasoning for the campaign.
KU Laurel Tree House has educated over 1500 children on Arundel Street since its opening. KU Childcare has welcomed over 12,000 children and has employed over 2,000 staff members across its history.