Planning Portal

DCAN 13: Crèches, Day Nurseries and Pre-School Play Groups
Information to be included with Planning Applications

6. In order to allow the Department to make a full assessment of the impact of the proposed development on the amenity of the immediate area, all future applicants will be required to provide information on the following:-
  • the proposed number and age range of children to be catered for;
  • the proposed number of staff, the ratio of staff to children and the maximum number of staff on the premises at any given time;
  • hours and days of opening;
  • an indication of the internal floorspace arrangements and for external playspace provision (both soft and hard surfaces);
  • a block layout plan indicating proposed car parking provision, landscaping and screening proposals, the means of access and internal vehicle manoeuvring space.

Non-Residential Areas

7. It is anticipated that there will be an increasing number of crèche, day nursery and pre-school playgroup facilities provided in or near existing work places. The Department considers that a location in an industrial area would be acceptable so long as the facility is ancillary to an existing industrial use. Developers would need to ensure that such a location is acceptable in terms of the environmental impacts of adjacent uses, traffic hazards and potential dangers from industrial plant or machinery.
In areas of predominantly commercial land uses or areas of mixed commercial and residential uses, the provision of a crèche, day nursery or pre-school playgroup would normally be acceptable subject to the consideration that such a use would not be allowed to break up an otherwise continuous shopping frontage. In some instances, it may be possible for the use to locate on the upper floors of a building thus overcoming this objection. In areas of mixed land use, the effects of the proposal on any residential properties will beconsidered in the same way as proposals in wholly residential areas.

Residential Areas

8 To a limited extent, crèches, day nurseries and pre-school playgroups have operated for some time as part of the overall activities within existing community buildings such as church complexes and community centres. While such premises may often be acceptable to the Department, trends would indicate that such day care facilities are becoming increasingly specialised in nature and operated on a commercial basis.
The Department would therefore anticipate that a substantial proportion of future applications will be for specialised crèches, day nurseries and pre-school playgroups in properties located within residential areas. Such proposals are unlikely to be acceptable in terraced or semi-detached properties in residential areas where the predominant form of occupation is by single families. Detached dwellings may be more acceptable for this type of use, particularly if they are substantial villas set in reasonably large grounds with mature landscaping. In determining the suitability of premises for such purposes, the Department will consider the impact of any proposed development on the existing character and amenity of the area and the implications for road safety. In residential areas, the Department will not normally grant permission for the change of use of an entire dwelling but may give favourable consideration to proposals for the joint use of a property as a residence and crèche, day nursery playgroup.
9. In considering the impact of the proposal on a residential area, the Department will have particular regard to the scale of operation, potential nuisance and disturbance, and the visual impact of the proposal.
  1. Scale of Operation

    One of the main determinants of the acceptability of a proposal will be its scale. Whilst a proposal involving a small number of children might be acceptable in a residential area, one catering for 30 children could have a serious detrimental effect on residential amenity. The Department will therefore wish to be satisfied that the scale of operation is appropriate both in relation to the specific site and the general neighbourhood.
  2. Potential Nuisance and Disturbance

    The main source of disturbance is noise generated either by additional traffic attracted to the site, or by the outdoor playing of the children. In considering a proposal the Department will wish to be satisfied that traffic arrangements are satisfactory and adequate outdoor playspace is available. Such playspace should not be located in close proximity to habitable rooms of any adjacent residential properties. The Department will consider the impact that the proposed hoursof operation may have on residential amenity.
  3. Visual Impact

    Regard will be taken to the effect of the proposal on the visual amenity and character of the area. The impact on existing landscaping will be considered together with the need for the provision of new or additional landscape treatment on any proposed site. Proposals to provide car parking space in front gardens in residential areas are unlikely to be acceptable. Parking provision and outdoor play areas should normally be screened from the public road and from adjoining property. Careful consideration should be given to materials used on surfaces. As a general rule the hardsurfacing of gardens will be discouraged. Applications which involve the use of temporary structures such as portacabins will be considered only in the most exceptional circumstances, and if approved the permission will be for a strictly limited period of time. Again screening from the public road and adjacent properties would be important. Extensions to existing buildings will only be permitted where it is clear that the extension would not result in a significant impact on residential amenity.
10. In Conservation Areas and Areas of Townscape Character the proposed conversion to a crèche, day nursery or pre-school playgroup will be considered in the light of planning policy for such an area. Where the proposal is considered acceptable in principle the detail of the proposed development must have special regard to the special architectural and historic character of the area.
11. The change of use of a building listed for its special architectural or historic interest to a crèche, day nursery or pre-school playgroup may be acceptable especially if such a use would help prolong its viable use or enhance its appearance. Alterations or extensions to such buildings will be strictly controlled and proposals which are unsympathetic to the character, structure or appearance of listed buildings will not be permitted.
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