A NSW Government website

Education and child care facilities

Chapter 3 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Transport and Infrastructure) 2021 – also known as the Transport and Infrastructure SEPP – makes it easier to build and improve educational facilities across NSW. This includes early childhood education and care facilities, schools, TAFEs and universities.

Proposed changes under consideration

From 6 March until 16 April 2024 we exhibited changes to help speed up delivery of essential infrastructure in NSW. This included changes to:

  • streamline the planning pathway for the delivery of education facilities
  • allow schools to respond faster to emergencies and disasters  
  • provide greater consistency between school, university and TAFE provisions.

We are currently considering all feedback received from submissions.

For more information on the changes exhibited, visit the NSW Planning Portal

Early childhood education and care facilities

The planning rules for early childhood education and care facilities:

In April 2024, we changed the policy to help deliver on the NSW Government’s commitment to fast-tracking the delivery of 100 preschools co-located with public primary schools by 2027.

The changes allow existing buildings on public primary school sites to be used as preschools for up to 50 children, without the need for a development application.

The policy updates also allow for development of new buildings or existing buildings to be used as preschools for more than 50 children under complying development provisions, with traffic impacts to be managed using certification from a local roads authority.

In December 2021, we made changes to Chapter 3 to help deliver better child care facilities following the review of the Education SEPP 2017. These changes allow more facilities to be built without a development application if they comply with strict rules, and address concerns about amenity impacts of child care centres in low-density residential zones (R2 zones).

Local environmental plans across NSW were changed in 2017 to allow child care centres to be built in low-density residential areas, so facilities can be built closer to homes. The recent review tightened rules to ensure facilities are built in the right places.

Child care planning guideline

Our 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.

Schools, universities and TAFEs

Under the current planning rules, public and registered non-government schools can easily improve and expand their facilities. This includes upgrading sports fields, building libraries and offering before- and after-school care.

TAFEs and universities can also change their facilities to meet the growing number of people seeking tertiary qualifications. They can make upgrades and improvements with consent, without consent and as exempt and complying development.

Following the review of the Education SEPP 2017, we changed the policy in December 2021 to allow more facilities to be built without a development application if they comply with strict rules. The changes also clarify that student housing is allowed on school and tertiary campuses.

Development without consent for registered non-government schools

Registered non-government schools can do small developments without development consent. An environmental impact assessment is still required. Works that significantly increase student numbers still require consent.

See the Code of Practice for Part 5 activities (PDF, 240 KB) for assessing environmental impacts, and consulting with the community and government on proposed developments.

Design guide for schools

Chapter 3’s design quality principles ensure new schools are well-designed, appropriately located and meet the needs of the community, such as energy efficiency. These principles are supported by the Government Architect’s Design Guide for Schools (PDF, 1.2 MB).