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NSW Department of Planning and Environment
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The Education SEPP was introduced in 2017 to help deliver world class child care and education infrastructure across NSW.

Review of the Education SEPP

The department recently reviewed the Education SEPP and made changes to improve planning processes for better delivery of great schools, TAFEs and universities.


The key changes made to the Education SEPP are to:

  • speed up planning processes by allowing more facilities to be built without a development application as long as it complies with strict rules
  • make it easier to understand that student housing is allowed on schools and tertiary institution campuses
  • address concerns about the impact of child-care centres in Low Density Residential Zones (R2)
  • fix existing policy anomalies in the Education SEPP.


The changes are part of a larger NSW Government program to ensure faster delivery of government and infrastructure projects, including education facilitates.


A report on the submissions received will soon be available on the planning portal.


Planning for early childhood education and care facilities

The Education SEPP:

  • aligns the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Facilities with the NSW planning system
  • simplifies the planning approval process by allowing certain child care facilities to be built without the needs for a development application as long as it complies with strict rules
  • allow child care centres to temporarily relocate (through an exempt development process) in the event of an emergency


In addition, in 2017 all Local Environmental Plans were changed to allow child care centres to be built in low density residential areas to allow facilities to be built closer to homes. The recent review tightened the rules to ensure they are built in the right places.


The child care planning guideline helps child care providers, developers and councils deliver new, high-quality early childhood education and care facilities. It includes national and state planning controls as well as best practice design guidance.


Child Care Planning Guideline

Watch the video spoken by Gabby Holden, Head of Early Learning Service Development, Uniting.

Planning for schools

The Education SEPP makes it much easier for public and registered non-government schools to improve and expand schools. This includes upgrades to sports fields, building a new library, and offering before and after school care services.


Development without consent for registered non-government schools

Some small developments can be done by registered non-government schools without development consent.  An environmental impact assessment for the proposed activity is still required. Development that significantly increases student numbers can not be done without consent.


The Code of Practice for Part 5 activities (PDF, 255 KB) was developed to make sure registered non-government school operators properly assess environmental impact. The code sets out requirements for consulting with the community and government on proposed  school developments. 


Design quality principles

Quality design is an important part of planning. It makes sure  that new schools enhance communities, deliver greater energy efficiency and contribute to healthy lifestyles for children. The SEPP introduced guidelines and design requirements for schools to ensure that facilities are well-designed, appropriately located, and meet the needs of the community.


The NSW Government Architect developed the Design Guide for Schools. It supports the Design Quality Principles in the Education SEPP and the delivery of good school design across NSW.


Planning for universities and TAFEs

The Education SEPP allows TAFEs and universities to change their facilities to meet the growing number of people seeking tertiary qualifications. The SEPP allows for development with consent, without consent and as exempt and complying development.

Page last updated: 15/02/2022