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  • Childcare Facilities

    Guidelines for Planning Authorities

    June, 2001

  • Government of Ireland

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  • Definitions 1

    1.0 Context 31.1 Background 31.2 Government Policy 31.3 Aim 31.4 Ministerial Guidelines 3

    2.0 Development Plans, Local and Action Area Plans 42.1 Planning and Development Act, 2000 42.2 Policies 42.3 Objectives 52.4 Appropriate Locations for Childcare Facilities 52.5 Local or Action Area Plans 6

    3.0 Development Control and related standards for Childcare Facilities 83.1 Land Use Zoning 83.2 Development Control 83.3 Specific Locations 9

    3.3.1 New and Existing Residential Areas 93.3.2 Industrial Estates/Employment Areas 93.3.3 City/Town Centres, District Centres

    and Neighbourhood Centres 103.3.4 Educational Establishments 103.3.5 Public Transport Nodes 11

    3.4 Possible Conditions to Planning Permission 113.4.1 Residential Content 113.4.2 Temporary Permission 11

    3.5 Drop-In Childcare Facilities in Shopping Centres 123.6 Access 12

    Contents

  • Appendix 1 General Standards 13

    Appendix 2 Application of the Standard of OneChildcare Facility per 75 Dwellings inNew Housing Areas 14

    Appendix 3 Information which should be Supplied by an Applicant for Planning Permission for aChildcare Facility 15

    Appendix 4 List of Relevant Publications 16

  • Definitions

    Childcare: In these Guidelines, "childcare" is taken to mean full day-care andsessional facilities and services for pre-school children and school-going children outof school hours. It includes services involving care, education and socialisationopportunities for children. Thus services such as pre-schools, naonra (Irish languageplaygroups), day-care services, crches, playgroups, and after-school groups areencompassed by these Guidelines. Conversely childminding, schools, (primary,secondary and special) and residential centres for children are not covered by theseGuidelines.

    Childminding: The provision of childcare for no more than 6 children (including thechild-minders own children) in the child-minders own home. The provision ofchild-minding services is not covered by these Guidelines.

    Sessional service: The provision of a service which offers a planned programme topre-school children of up to 3.5 hours per session by trained personnel. Sessionalservices include playgroups and Montessori groups and similar services.

    Full day-care: The provision of a structured day-care service for children for morethan 3.5 hours per day, supervised by competent personnel. Full day-care includescrches and nurseries.

    After school care: Extended day-care for school-going children, usually Monday toFriday.

    Sessional and full day-care are governed by the provisions of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations, 1996. After-school care does not come under theprovisions of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations, 1996 and is regulatedby fire safety and environmental health regulations and the Safety, Health andWelfare at Work Act, 1989.

    1

  • 2

  • 1.1 Background

    With the growing demand for childcare provision, there is a recognition thatsuch provision must be of a suitably high quality. Quality childcare canbenefit children, their parents, employers and communities in general. Thechange, which has taken place in the traditional roles and structures of Irishsociety, coupled with the rapid rate of growth in the economy, has led to anunprecedented demand for childcare services in particular within the localcommunity.

    Access to quality childcare services contributes to the social, emotional andeducational development of children. There are clear economic benefits fromthe provision of childcare. The lack of accessible, affordable and appropriatechildcare facilities makes it difficult for many parents/guardians to accessemployment and employment related opportunities. Childcare is also apotential area of employment in its own right and needs to be recognised andsupported to ensure that it can achieve its potential in this regard.

    1.2 Government PolicyGovernment policy on childcare is to increase the number of childcare placesand facilities available and to improve the quality of childcare services for thecommunity.

    1.3 Aim

    These Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Childcare Facilities provide aframework to guide both local authorities in preparing development plansand assessing applications for planning permission, and developers andchildcare providers in formulating development proposals. Planningpermission for premises for childcare had been identified as an area ofconcern for childcare service development. These Guidelines are intended toensure a consistency of approach throughout the country to the treatment ofapplications for planning permission for childcare facilities.

    1.4 Ministerial Guidelines

    These Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Childcare Facilities are being issuedas Ministerial guidelines under Section 28 of the Planning and DevelopmentAct, 2000. Section 28 provides that planning authorities and An Bord Pleanlashall have regard to Ministerial guidelines in the performance of theirfunctions. It should, however, be noted that these Guidelines relate solelyto the land use planning aspects of childcare provision.

    3

    1.0 Context

  • 4

    2.0 Development Plans, Local and ActionArea Plans

    2.1 Planning and Development Act, 2000

    Section 10 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, which deals with thecontent of development plans, came into effect on 1 January 2001. Section10(1) sets out the content of development plans. Section 10(2) sets out anumber of objectives which are consistent with proper planning andsustainable development and which a planning authority is obliged to includein a development plan. A particular objective of relevance to these guidelinesis at Section 10(2), paragraph (l) - "the provision, or the facilitation of the provision,of services for the community including, in particular, schools, crches and othereducation and childcare facilities".

    2.2 Policies

    Planning authorities should, in their Development Plans, encourage thedevelopment of a broad range of childcare facilities, i.e. part-time, full day-care, after-school care, etc., including those based in residential areas, inemployment areas and in areas close to where users of such facilities live.

    Planning authorities should ensure that Development Plans and Local AreaPlans include policies in relation to the provision of childcare facilities. Suchpolicies should focus on the following:

    Promoting awareness of the necessity to provide quality childcare in avariety of locations.

    The role of childcare provision in addressing disadvantage/socialexclusion and promoting equality.

    The identification of appropriate locations for the provision ofchildcare facilities including city centres, district centres,neighbourhood centres, residential areas, places of employment, andeducational institutions and convenience to public transport nodes asa key element in the development of sustainable communities.

    The role childcare can play in fostering economic development,particularly at the local level.

    The active promotion of consultation and participation with localdevelopment partnerships/groups, Health Boards, the CountyChildcare Committees and the County Development Boards in theprovision and monitoring of a County Childcare Strategy.

  • 2.3 Objectives

    The Planning and Development Act, 2000, makes it a mandatory requirementon planning authorities to include in their Development Plan objectives on theprovision of services for the community, including crches and other childcarefacilities. Planning authorities should include in their Development Planspecific objectives for the provision of childcare facilities, having regard toexisting childcare provision in the area. Objectives to be included inDevelopment Plans and Local Area Plans should focus on the following:

    To update and develop baseline data on the quality of existing andprospective childcare needs in association with the County ChildcareCommittees.

    To promote childcare facilities in the following locations as a keyelement in the provision of sustainable communities:

    Residential areas Places of employment Educational establishments City and town centres, neighbourhood and district centres Convenient to public transport nodes

    To establish a system of monitoring the achievement of the aboveobjectives.

    The Objectives Section of the Development Plan should include childcarefacilities within appropriate zones as a specific use. It is not sufficient toinclude objectives for childcare in a general category for buildings forhealth/education/community. Development control criteria includingappropriate locations in developing and built up areas should be detailed (seeChapter 3 below).

    2.4 Appropriate Locations for Childcare Facilities

    Appropriate locations f