Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), all development, unless specifically exempted under the Act or associated Regulations, requires planning permission. Section 4 of the Act and Article 6 and Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended (the Regulations) set out in more detail the various exemptions from the requirement to obtain planning permission.
Furthermore, Article 10 of the Regulations provides that certain changes of use, with regard to particular classes of use, are also exempted from the requirement to obtain permission. Any such exemptions are subject to compliance with any general restrictions on exemptions set out in the Act or the Regulations and to the specific conditions set out in each class of exempted development in Schedule 2 of the Regulations.
Article 10(5) of the Regulations provides that:
‘Development consisting of the use of a house for child minding shall be exempted development for the purposes of the Act.’
However, it is important to note that, for the purposes of Article 10(5), the Regulations provide that “child minding” means the activity of minding no more than 6 children, including the children, if any, of the person minding, in the house of that person, for profit or gain.
There are no other exemptions provided in relation to childcare facilities.
Exemptions from the requirement to obtain planning permission in respect of specific forms of development are provided for when they are considered to be consistent with proper planning and sustainable development.
With regard to whether a particular development requires planning permission, an individual can apply to his/her local planning authority for a determination under section 5 of the Act as to whether any particular case is or is not development, or is or is not exempted development, within the meaning of the Act.
The granting of planning permission or a declaration that development is exempted development does not solely authorise development, including "change of use" of premises, to proceed where other consents are required. The operation of a childcare facility may be subject to multiple requirements of which planning is just one. I have no plans to introduce new exempted development planning regulations allowing for the "change of use" of a premises to a childcare facility.
It should be noted that my Department issued guidance to the planning authorities under section 28 of the 2000 Act in relation to emergency measures taken by the Government in relation to the current situation brought about by the Covid-19 virus. The guidance includes recommendations made in relation to planning enforcement in accordance with Government policy. This guidance addresses the operation of childcare facilities. A copy of the Guidance is available on my Departments website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/section_28_guidelines_-_enforcement_during_covid_19_emergency_30_mar_2020.pdf
Furthermore, Planning Circular PL 03/2016 requested planning authorities with effect from September 2016 to expedite:
- all pre-planning application consultation requests from childcare facility providers in relation to proposals to extend opening hours, to increase capacity or to provide new facilities, and
- consideration, insofar as is possible, of all planning applications or Section 5 declaration submissions in respect of childcare facilities in order to facilitate the expansion of required capacity as appropriate.