Information for local councils

Local Councils are required to make concurrence referrals for Early Childhood Education and Care facilities.

A concurrence referral to the department is required within 7 days of a local council receiving a development application (DA) that does not meet the indoor and outdoor space requirements of the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations.

1. National Quality Framework (NQF)

The NQF provides the regulatory framework for child care, and includes the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations.

The NSW Department of Education is the Regulatory Authority for NSW early childhood education and care services. The Regulatory Authority is responsible for assessing applications for provider and service approvals to operate a child care service, and monitoring compliance with the law.

2. Key features of the SEPP

The introduction of the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for Educational Establishments & Child Care Facilities meant the following changes:

  • A Child Care Planning Guideline was developed that establishes the assessment framework to deliver consistent planning outcomes and design quality for centre-based child care facilities in NSW
  • Councils must take into consideration any applicable provisions of the Guideline before determining a Development Application (DA) for a centre-based child care facility (Clause 23, SEPP)
  • Child care DAs that don’t meet the indoor and outdoor space requirements of the Education and Care Services National Regulations must be referred to the Department of Education for concurrence
  • An NQF Assessment Checklist (see Guideline) is available and must be considered by a consent authority when determining a DA.

3. Benefits of the SEPP

The Child Care Planning Guideline provides important information about the physical space requirements for child care centres at the planning stage of a new development. This will assist developers in building centres that comply with the NQF.

The SEPP will also assist in reducing the likelihood of facilities being constructed and requiring modification after completion in order to meet the NQF requirements and obtain service approval.

The SEPP was developed in close consultation with local councils and provides benefits to councils and applicants. These benefits include better alignment between planning and child care regulations and an opportunity for educating developers at the planning stage on what is required.

4. Referring a DA for concurrence

Local councils can determine if concurrence is required by considering the NQF Assessment Checklist in the Child Care Planning Guideline completed by the applicant. The Guideline must be considered by local councils when determining next steps on a DA.

Only DAs that do not comply with the indoor (Regulaton 107) and outdoor space (Regulation 108) requirements can be referred to the department.

The Application for concurrence form (PDF, 220KB) is designed to guide council officers on the information and documents required by the department when assessing concurrence applications. This form should be provided at the time of referral to avoid delay and a decision by the Regulatory Authority.

The Regulatory Authority will consider the objectives of the National Quality Framework, other relevant provisions of the National Regulations and the completed Concurrence checklist when determining concurrence requests.

5. Timeframes for referral and decisions

A development application (DA) that requires concurrence is required to be referred to the department within 7 days (Clause 22(3) of the SEPP). When making a referral, councils must provide all relevant documentation and nominate a direct contact email address and phone number. To avoid delays, please complete all details and attach all necessary documents for the referral.

Once the department has received a referral, the 28 day determination period will begin per Clause 22(5) of the SEPP. Our aim is to make a determination as soon as possible.

If concurrence is not provided by the Department, the DA should be withdrawn and modified to meet the relevant education infrastructure requirements.

6. Concurrence fee

A fee is payable to the department for all referrals. In line with Schedule 4 Part 3 Item 3.2 (a) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 (EP&A), this is set at $374, the local council should forward the concurrence fee to the department at the time of sending each referral to the department.

The department does not accept cheques as payment.

7. Engagement on referrals

As the independent Regulatory Authority for NSW early education and care services, the department will engage only with the relevant council when processing a concurrence referral.

For more information

Information, Approvals and Services Team
Early Childhood Education
1800 619 113 (toll free)


  • School operations

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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