PA launches pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on land-use for child­care

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The Plan­ning Au­thor­ity yes­ter­day pub­lished for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion an up­dated land-use plan­ning pol­icy guid­ance to en­sure that the growing de­mand for child­care fa­cil­i­ties is well catered for with ut­most im­por­tance given to the wel­fare of the chil­dren.

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.

The guide­lines pro­pose that child day care fa­cil­i­ties are lo­cated within res­i­den­tial ar­eas or em­ploy­ment hubs to un­der­score the im­por­tance that child care fa­cil­i­ties are a com­mu­nity ser­vice but also make it eas­ier for work­ing par­ents to have ac­cess to th­ese fa­cil­i­ties close to their place of work. Em­ploy­ment hubs as des­ig­nated in the Lo­cal Plans in­clude Town Cen­tres, In­dus­trial Zones, Micro-en­ter­prise Parks, Tourism Zones and En­ter­tain­ment Zones.

The pol­icy makes a pro­vi­sion that should an in­dus­trial area be con­sid­ered as an ap­pro­pri­ate site, enough mea­sures need to be taken to en­sure a high qual­ity en­vi­ron­ment for the young chil­dren. The guide­lines do not ex­clude that ex­ist­ing build­ings in the coun­try­side may also be suit­able for the pro­vi­sion of child­care as long as the build­ing is not too dis­tant from the ur­ban area and is al­ready ser­viced by the road net­work.

The guide­lines make a pro­vi­sion that child­care fa­cil­i­ties will not be favourably con­sid­ered on ar­te­rial, dis­trib­u­tor or other heavy traf­fic roads due to the pres­ence of un­de­sir­able lev­els of chem­i­cal pol­lu­tion and noise, as well as a higher risk of traf­fic ac­ci­dents.

From a land-use per­spec­tive, the pro­posed 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. More so, 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 ap- pro­pri­ate.

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. Where the child­care fa­cil­ity is to be lo­cated within a his­toric build­ing or within an Ur­ban Con­ser­va­tion Area (UCA), the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment needs to re­spect the her­itage value of the build­ing.

For pur­poses of en­sur­ing ad­e­quate park­ing pro­vi­sions and re­duce the im­pact of the child care fa­cil­ity on the ad­ja­cent neigh­bour­hood, the guide­lines cat­e­gorise into four 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 100 square me­tres, a medium im­pact for fa­cil­i­ties be­tween 100-180 square me­tres and a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact for fa­cil­i­ties with over 180 square me­tres.

The pro­posed 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 draft pol­icy doc­u­ment may be viewed on­lic­consul­ta­tion. In­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions are in­vited to send their rep­re­sen­ta­tion per­tain­ing to the pro­posed pol­icy in writ­ing through email ad­dress: child­care.pol­ by not later than 6 De­cem­ber 2016.

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