The Malta Independent 24 November 2017, Friday

New land-use policy to meet growing demand for childcare facilities

Tuesday, 4 April 2017, 16:23 Last update: about 9 months ago

Following Government’s commitment to increase the female workforce and encourage more women to re-enter the labour market, the Planning Authority has published an updated approved land use planning framework to respond to parents growing needs for more child day care facilities.  

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The principal land use planning considerations in this guidance document fall into three thematic areas: location, suitability and scale of the premises and the potential impact on neighbours.

To emphasize the growing importance that child care facilities are, as a community service supporting families, the policy promotes that these facilities are to be located within residential areas or employment hubs such as town centres, industrial zones, micro-enterprise parks, tourism zones and entertainment zones. This approach seeks to make it easier for working parents to have access to these facilities close to their place of work.

Existing buildings in the countryside may also be considered suitable for the provision of childcare facilities as long as the building is not too distant from the urban area and is already serviced by the road network.

Due to the presence of undesirable levels of chemical pollution and noise, as well as a higher risk of traffic accidents, the guidelines will not favourably consider childcare facilities on arterial, distributor or other heavy traffic roads.

From a land-use perspective, the policy considers terraced houses, maisonettes and detached properties in appropriate locations as suitable for the use of child day care facilities, provided that they satisfy the requirements of this policy. Moreso, detached properties, may have the added advantage in that they are more likely to be able to provide outside play areas and accommodate on-site parking.

To protect the amenity of the surrounding area and the impact that such facilities may have on neighbours, premises which share their access with a block of flats will not be considered appropriate.

Additionally all proposed child day care facilities will need to ensure that they are fully accessible for all, including persons with a disability and the mobility impaired. 

For purposes of ensuring adequate parking provisions and reduce the impact of the child care facility on the adjacent neighbourhood, the guidelines categorise into 4 tiers the proportion of the scale/impact. The policy determines that there is no impact for home-based child care facilities (up to 6 children), a low impact for facilities up to 100m2, a medium impact for facilities between 100-180m2 and a significant impact for facilities with over 180m2.

The policy also notes that whether or not premises are considered suitable for childcare facilities will primarily be assessed by the Ministry for Education. The Ministry will also determine the maximum number of children together with corresponding number of carers a childcare facility can have.

The approved policy document together with the submissions received from the public during the public consultation phase may be viewed on www.pa.org.mt

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