This information is a guide to the statutory planning process for people developing childcare facilities. It is not a definitive legal interpretation of planning law. The information is taken from a variety of publications and policy documents. Policy for the development of childcare facilities is set out in the County and Local Area Development Plans. All applications will be assessed against this policy and against Department of Environment & Local Governments’ guidelines. For more definitive information you must contact your local planning authority.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the development policies and objectives of the planning authority in the Local Development Plan, in advance of even considering developing a site or building. You can view the plan and discuss your proposal with the planning officer by appointment.
Information to be supplied
Generally the more information supplied the better, as this can reduce the need for the Planning Authority to request further information from you. Pre-planning meetings can be held with the Planning Department before an application is made.
Information submitted, should include the following, at a minimum:
- Nature of the facility: Is it full day care, sessional, drop-in or after-school?
- Number of children being catered for
- Parking provision for customers and staff
- Proposed hours of operation
- Open space provision, outdoor play areas, and measures for management of same
Please note: it is always advisable to consult with your local Planning Department, Chief Fire Officer, Health Service Executive, Area Engineer and Roads Design prior to submitting a planning application.
When do you need Planning Permission?
You need planning permission for any development of land or property unless it is specifically exempted from this need. The term development includes the carrying out of works (building, demolition, alteration) on land or buildings, and making of a material (i.e. significant) change of use of land or buildings. You also need planning permission if you change the use of an existing residence or building to develop a childcare facility.
Are there any exemptions?
Generally, planning permission is required for the development of any childcare facility. Exemptions apply to minor domestic changes, of up to 40sq.m with conditions and for the use of a house for child minding, defined as “the activity of minding no more than six children (including children, if any, of the person minding) in the house of that person for profit or gain” (Planning & Development Regulations 2001, S.I. 600).
How long will it take to get Planning Permission?
Generally the planning authorities will deal with a planning application in 12 weeks from the date of application to the final grant of permission. Within the first 8 weeks you will receive a Notification of Decision to either: Grant, Refuse, or Seek Further Information. The minimum period for a decision is stipulated as 5 weeks. The final 4 weeks is to allow for Appeals and Objections. However, the time period will vary, particularly if the authority requires further information, as is often the case.
Considerations in your Planning Application
Department of Environment & Local Government guidelines set out the criteria for assessing planning applications for childcare facilities. You should consider each of these points in your application:
- Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016
- Suitability of the site for the type and size of the facility proposed
- Availability of outdoor play area and details of management of same
- Convenient to public transport facilities
- Safe access and convenient parking for customers and staff
- Local traffic conditions
- Cycle ways
- Number of such facilities in the area
- Intended hours of operation (in certain residential areas, 24 hour operations could be problematic)
- Proposals for large residential developments (75 units or more) shall be presented in the context of a local area plan where access for residents to public transport, schools and childcare facilities, shops and recreational areas are all clearly intended.
The location of childcare facilities is of critical importance. The accessibility to amenities for local residents must be maintained. Traffic considerations must also be considered. Therefore, to avoid the creation of traffic hazards, adequate parking, dropping off, turning facilities, sight distances etc. must be available. The Planning Authority shall consider childcare facilities in the following locations as a key element in the provision of sustainable communities;
- Residential areas;
- Places of employment;
- Educational establishments;
- City, town and neighborhood centers;
- Convenience to public transport facilities.
Are there any other requirements?
Yes, you will need the following:
- Fire Safety Certificate: The Fire Safety Certificate Guide may be obtained from the Fire Department or the Building Control Department of the Environment and Local Government.
- Building Regulations: The law governing the planning system is set out in the Local Government (Planning & Development) Acts, 1963 to 2000 and the Local Government (Planning & Development) Regulations, 1997 to 2001. The Planning Regulations 2001 revoke all Planning Acts 1963-1999. These may be purchased from the Government Publications Sales Office, Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. (These are continuously being updated)
- Commencement Notice: Building Control Department – Local Planning Authorities.
- Approval from Local Authorities Services: Building control department – Local Planning Authorities.
- ESB/Gas supply: Local suppliers
- Health Authority approval: Local Planning Authorities.