Finding suitable premises for your childcare business

When looking for a suitable premises for your childcare business there are certain things you need to consider. Below you will find guidance and advice to help you find the right premises for your business.

Location, size and space

When deciding the number and ages of children you wish to be registered for, The EYFS Statutory framework provides details regarding space allowances and premises.

The EYFS states the required individual space required per child is:

  • under 2 years 3.5 Sq. meters per child
  • 2 years 2.5 Sq. meters per child
  • 3 to 5 Years 2.3 Sq. meters per child

These calculations should be based on the usable areas of the rooms used by the children, not including storage areas, thoroughfares, dedicated staff areas, cloakrooms, utility rooms, kitchens and toilets. 

The number of children you can look after will depend upon the usable space inside your premises. 

You should also consider:

  • available access for those with physical disabilities
  • storage space for your equipment 
  • enough toilets & wash basins
  • access to daily outdoor play

You can contact the Early Years Team on 020 8496 3566 to discuss suitable premises over the phone. Visits to prospective premises may be able to be arranged with the Early Years team if we have the availability. The team can give advice on the suitability of the premises for Ofsted registration, but this would not be carried out for every enquiry.

"All early year providers must have access to an outdoor play area which can benefit the children. If a setting does not have direct access to an outdoor play area then they must make arrangements for daily opportunities for outdoor play in an appropriate nearby location" EYFS

Childcare sufficiency assessment and the need for childcare.

A childcare sufficiency assessment provides an overview of the local childcare market, comparing the supply of childcare in an area to the demand for childcare. Demand for childcare is based on the number of children in the area and the average national usage. By comparing supply with demand, we can see whether there is a requirement for more childcare in an area. Contact the Early Years Team for more information. 

Health and Safety and Premises Compliance. 

Premises Compliance also forms part of the L.A’s requirements before we can offer any contract for you to offer free early years funding.

As an early years provider you will need to ensure that your premises are safe and hygienic. It is important for you to be aware that there are a number of statutory requirements that you will need to meet around the actual premises compliance as well as general h&s. The key statutory requirements are Fire Safety, Asbestos, Electrical Safety, Gas Safety and Water Safety. There will be other duties imposed on you but these are the main key things we would expect providers to cover and have knowledge on.

Types of property

There are a range of different types of properties that could be suitable for your childcare business, including a commercial property, your home, day use of a community centre or a new build. Whatever type of building you use your need to meet the requirements of the EYFS.

The Council may be able to offer advice on suitable premises. Get in touch with the Early Years Team to find out more about the suitability of the properties you are considering. 


Your property will need D1 Planning approval. This may mean your property will require a change of use to D1 if this doesn't already exist. 

Do not assume you can run your childcare business from the premises, even if it has D1 Planning or has been a childcare facility before. You must contact the local authority to check if there are any restrictions.

Planning may consider some or all of the following when deciding whether your property is suitable.


  • space for delivery vehicles
  • spaces will be needed for drop-off and collection of children
  • access to the site from the road 
  • increased traffic on the road

Surrounding neighbours

  • noise created by children, especially in residential areas

Converting a domestic premises to a childcare facility

  • conversion of an entire house may be restricted
  • the type and size of house 
  • planning permission may be granted on a time-limited basis subject to review

Using primary shopping frontages

  • the loss of retail use
  • space and access to outdoor play areas appropriate security 
  • parking 

Access into the building

  • equal access for all
  • good design for access into and around the building
  • responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act


  • the number of other such uses in existence in the local area 
  • restricted use where planning permission is granted
  • limits to the number of children that can be cared for
  • hours of use may be limited to avoid disturbance to local residents.

These are just some considerations and are intended as a guide. You will need to discuss with the planning department. The project cannot go ahead unless the appropriate planning permission is in place.

Other planning requirements

You may need to apply for planning permission for:

  • some building or alteration works
  • changing the heating
  • electrical works if not self–certified and accredited via Building Regulations accredited schemes. 
  • window replacement if not FENSA certified, FENSA is a government authorised Competent Person Scheme for the replacement of windows, doors, roof windows and roof lights in England and Wales against the relevant Building Regulations.

We always advise you to employ a suitably qualified planning consultant to assist you with this type of planning application.

Cost of premises

Setting up a new childcare business can be very expensive. Consider all the different costs vs the potential income to see if your business is viable. 

Costs could include:

  • buying or leasing your property
  • planning permission and any building changes, e.g. structural changes, additional toilets, improved security
  • resources such as toys, kitchen supplies, safety equipment
  • additional staff
  • repairs and maintenance
  • utility bills and business rates

Pack Away Nurseries

A pack away nursery is one where you share your venue, so you have to set up and pack away all your things at the beginning and end of the day, ready for use by someone else, such as a community centre or sports pavilion. 

Make sure you consider the additional work, storage and time required. You will need to be certain the property is always secure and noone can enter without permission.

Last update: Tuesday 5th of May 2020 10:37:52 AM