Preliminary works for the development are now underway, with fibre-optic cabling being laid along Abercrombie Street as part of a University telecommunications upgrade and the relocation of water and sewer services also beginning this month.
At a recent information night, University representatives advised staff and parents from the centre that demolition of other buildings on the site is scheduled to occur over the centre’s holiday shutdown period. Installation of a new underground sewer service that will run directly beneath the premises is also planned for this time. Clearing of the demolished structures is then expected to run into March, with excavation to follow and continue into July.
Plans for the new childcare facility are currently under development in consultation with centre staff. However, they are still some way off submission for approval by relevant authorities. At this stage, the University’s target is to have the new centre ready to open in January 2014. In the interim, University representatives responsible for the project have assured centre staff and parents that they will continue their efforts to find an appropriate building for a temporary relocation – a complex and regrettably unlikely undertaking, given the many regulations governing childcare premises and the limited area in which the centre can reasonably be relocated.
Parents and carers have communicated their concerns to the University about ensuring the centre’s continuous operation on the one hand, and on the other, ensuring the health and safety of the children while work is underway. The University has expressed its mindfulness of these concerns and advised parents and staff it has consulted with experts to devise appropriate noise, air quality and vibration mitigation strategies.
“We are now fast-tracking the design and construction of the new childcare centre,” said Greg Robinson, Director, Campus Infrastructure and Services. “In the meantime, we have put in place significant measures to reduce the impact of our development and ensure a safe environment for staff and children at the existing centre.”
Many parents and carers had been hopeful that relocation of the centre, whether temporary or permanent, would be completed before works commenced on the site to avoid inconvenience, disruption and concern arising from the works, carefully planned as they may be to minimise these impacts.
“The Abercrombie Precinct redevelopment is a critical component of the University of Sydney’s plans to upgrade our facilities and we have a pressing need to complete the project to enable enrolments for the start of the 2015 academic year,” Mr Robinson explained. “Delaying the project while a new childcare centre is built is not feasible.”
As part of the Abercrombie Precinct project, the site currently occupied by Boundary Lane Children’s Centre will be redeveloped to provide student housing.