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Planning for early childhood education and care facilities

 

To make it easier for child care providers and developers to deliver new early childhood education and care facilities across NSW, the NSW Government has made the following changes to the planning system:

  • aligning the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Facilities with the NSW planning system;
  • simplifying and streamlining the planning approval process by allowing certain early childhood education and care facilities to be assessed as exempt or complying developments;
  • referring development applications that do not meet key national requirements to the NSW Department of Education early in the assessment process, allowing applicants to make any necessary modifications early in the design process;
  • allowing early childhood education and care facilities to be temporarily relocated (through an exempt development process) in the event of an emergency;
  • amending all Local Environmental Plans to permit centre-based child care in all R2 Low Density Residential, allowing facilities in more locations closer to homes; and
  • introducing a common assessment framework made up of the Child Care Planning Guideline and non-discretionary development standards. The Guideline contains key national requirements and planning and design guidance for child care facilities and will generally prevail over local development control plans.

 

These changes will not affect the requirement for early childhood education and care providers to apply for a Service Approval to operate a service. In NSW, the Department of Education is the regulatory authority which reviews and approves applications for Service Approvals.


The SEPP classifies the types of early childhood education and care facilities that can be assessed as exempt and complying development and those facilities that will need to go through the local development (DA) process. The SEPP and the Guideline contain key requirements from the national law so that new facilities are appropriately designed and built.

 

To support the changes, all Local Environmental Plans across NSW have been amended. The amendments:

  • change all references of ‘child care centre’ to ‘centre-based child care’; and
  • permit centre-based child care with development consent in all R2 Low Density Residential, delivering more facilities closer to homes and jobs
  • update the definition of home-based child care
  • introduces the term school-based child care, which is out-of-school-hours care on school sites and education, and care facility as a group term overing all definitions.

The SEPP allows the following types of facilities to be considered as exempt development, as long as all planning controls have been met:

  • home-based child care facilities on land on which dwellings are permissible, except bushfire prone land;
  • school-based child care, as long as no new work is required to accommodate the use; 
  • mobile child care; and
  • temporary relocations of centre-based child care facilities in the event of an emergency


The SEPP allows the following types of facilities to be considered as complying development, so long as all of the planning controls have been met:

  • school-based child care, where new works are needed to accommodate the service within the school;
  • some minor alterations and additions to centre-based child care facilities;
  • home-based child care facilities on bushfire prone land with appropriate protection measures;
  • out-of-school hours care on existing TAFE and university sites.

The SEPP aims to remove the duplication and inconsistencies that currently exist when constructing a child care facility and subsequently applying for a service approval.

 

Most early childhood education and care facilities are defined as centre-based child care. Centre-based child care facilities need to be assessed through the local development process.

 

To help child care providers, developers and councils to deliver new, high-quality early childhood education and care facilities, a child care planning guideline has been prepared. The planning guideline includes national and state planning controls as well as best practice design guidelines. A copy of the planning guideline can be viewed here.

Page last updated: 07/09/2017