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Tuesday Oct 08, 2013

Cape Town to waive creche zoning restrictions

The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government have agreed to waive zoning restrictions that have made it difficult for creches and aftercare centres in informal settlements to operate legally.

There were about 1 125 unregistered early childhood development centres in the city, of which 441 were in informal settlements, said Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development. Another 546 centres were registered.

Robert MacDonald, provincial head of social development, confirmed this, saying that according to the findings of a 2011/2012 audit, many early childhood development centres operated in informal areas, in shacks or temporary structures, where they could not get zoning approval from the city council.

In terms of the Children's Act, all such centres caring for more than six children must be registered with the provincial Department of Social Development, and a condition is council approval of the centre's building plans and land use rights.

'The department recognises that these provisions are not only impractical, but they effectively and unfairly discriminate against provision of the centres in informal areas.'

MacDonald said the Children's Act was being reviewed to address this problem. However, to ensure the safety of the children attending the many centres already operating in informal areas, the department would give them conditional registration without their having to provide proof of zoning or building plan approval.

Ivan Bromfield, the city's executive director for health, said the city agreed that provided the centres complied with health and safety requirements, zoning would no longer be a problem.

The city would refer applications for provisional registration to the city's environmental health and safety and security departments for the necessary inspections.

Little said the city was developing standard operating procedures to guide council officials and the provincial government on ways to help unregistered centres in informal areas.

Meanwhile, there are continuing registration drives in various areas to get other childcare centres on board with the city's by-aws and legal regulations.

In a report submitted to the city's social development and early childhood development portfolio committee, Andile Wotshela said at least three centres in Fisantekraal and Kalkfontein had been told to close after inspections. It was found that the facilities posed a 'serious and immediate danger' to the safety of the children.

Cape Argus


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