Key demographic indicators show that there is significant population and employment growth within the Brisbane CBD and surrounding inner-city suburbs. In turn, this has driven childcare providers to focus their service offering towards key CBD spaces that offer convenient amenity for busy city-based working families.
Childcare centres in Australia have seen significant growth over the last five years, in line with world leading population growth figures. There is growing demand from a transactional perspective as well, with institutional investors and foreign investors, in particular, identifying the diversification potential of investing in childcare centres alongside other property asset classes.
In addition, diversification benefits are realised as a result of significantly longer leasing terms in childcare centres, with average lease terms ranging from 10-20 years. This increased interest as a separate asset class is evidenced by falling yields nationally. New trends are suggesting that we are now seeing a shift north of Australia’s largest cities, as record high property prices and rising living costs drive residents to migrate to Brisbane in pursuit of relative affordability.
QLD leading the way in migration and employment
According to Shrabastee Mallik, Associate Director at Savills Research, over the last twelve months alone, Queensland has led the country in terms of interstate migration, with over 19,000 residents shifting to the sunny state. Recent numbers from the ABS show that Queensland is also leading the nation in terms of labour metrics.
“In the year to March 2018, Queensland recorded employment growth of 4.3%, a figure well above its long-term averages and other states. What is even more positive about this is that this employment growth was driven by full-time growth, which grew by 5.0% over the same period,” she said.
With most of these people settling in Brisbane, it makes sense that current childcare trends in Sydney and Melbourne will be replicated in Brisbane.
The inner city childcare concept
The Savills Queensland Office Leasing team has reported a spike in enquiry from childcare operators seeking inner-city foyer and podium level accommodation.
Leasing Manager Daniel Boyes said that one of the earliest examples of this movement has been the recent take up of first level space at 133 Mary Street by G8 Education.
“The inner city childcare concept has been well thought out - as we are becoming more time poor, the notion of using a city-based day care service has become more convenient,
“Many of these facilities are incorporating all the necessities for the day which include things like meals, nappies, formula, bed sheets, hats & sunscreen; so families do not need to travel with large bags when commuting,” he said.
G8 Education have committed to 808sq m of space with an additional 426sqm of balcony space over a 15 year term.
After hours childcare facilities offer an unparalleled learning experience from city surrounds for young minds. “The CBD is rich with culture and offers children the opportunity to participate in cultural celebrations throughout the year,” Mr Boyes said.
Over the last five years there has been growing demand for childcare operators in CBD areas to cater to a growing white collar workforce, with councils amending approval requirements and implementing new time frames.
A whole new learning platform & design challenges
Savills State Director of Office Leasing John McDonald said that the offering of Childcare Services in the Brisbane CBD marks the beginning of a whole new learning platform for the next generation.
“The architectural concepts which are being seen in these spaces include the latest technology to emulate garden designs, incorporate outdoor play areas, as well as integrate raised flooring and extra drainage,” he said.
Savills negotiated an industry leading example of such architecture on behalf of Goodstart Learning, located across an entire floor in the heritage-listed Broadway on the Mall building - directly above H&M; uniquely designed by Gray Puksand.
Kevin Miles, Brisbane Managing Partner at Gray Puksand told the Australian Design Review that due to the existing ground-floor tenancy and the lack of outdoor space, there were several challenges that required a collaborative approach.
“Typically with childcare you need outdoor space, depending on how many children you have,” Miles says. “Along with a new rooftop garden and play area, this atrium space lent itself to that requirement for outdoor space,” says Miles.
Other elements which were included in the design were operable windows and large openings to bring breezes through to the indoor play area along with the right equipment, support facilities and separate learning environments for each age group, from infant to kindergarten.
Childcare provisions in development approvals
Even though we are beginning to see some of these centres already taking shape around the Brisbane CBD, looking forward we are likely to see childcare proposals incorporated into development approval applications.
There are already a number of Queensland examples of new developments incorporating childcare provisions into their DA’s right from the get-go in order to avoid lengthy and costly processes associated with getting approvals for pre-existing buildings.
Childcare providers are expected to replicate CBD offerings in Brisbane more easily than its southern counterparts have done in the past, as development requirements are currently less stringent and more affordable, making the availability of this type of amenity even more prevalent in the current market.