NSW Department of Planning and Environment

An additional 70,000 dwellings will be needed in the region by 2036.25 Providing the land and the infrastructure to meet this demand is central to the Plan. New housing will be focused in established areas through infill development, and will also continue to be provided through greenfield development.


The Plan provides guidance for both of these options. It also provides a framework to identify long term development sites through local strategic planning.


Housing supply will be influenced by growth and change in the population across the region, and by the community’s desire for greater housing choice. By 2036, the percentage of people aged over 65 years is projected to increase from 19 per cent to 25 per cent.26


It will be necessary to identify and protect employment lands to support the regional economy and to capitalise on its strengths.



Greater Newcastle settlement pattern map

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Settlement pattern maps

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Direction 21 – Create a compact settlement

Focusing development in locations with established services and infrastructure increases the appeal of these places for new residents.Planning will focus on delivering land for housing quickly and cost-effectively to establish new communities in the Maitland Corridor, Newcastle–Lake Macquarie Western Corridor and the emerging growth area around Cooranbong, Morisset and Wyee.

Councils should identify new medium to longer term development opportunities through their local planning strategies. Settlement planning principles will be developed to provide guidance to councils that are identifying new land release areas. A local planning toolkit will also be prepared to provide additional guidance on preparing local land use planning strategies.

In locations with good access to public transport and services, it makes sense to identify new opportunities for redevelopment and renewal. Greater Newcastle, coastal areas including Nelson Bay and Forster-Tuncurry, and other towns across the region have potential for this type of development.

There is also potential to maximise the capacity of larger urban renewal sites through good design and planning. However, the process of identifying new sites for urban renewal needs to be weighed against employment land supply and demand. It is also necessary to consider the remediation of contaminated land.

Small-scale renewal can be achieved across urban areas through single-lot redevelopment. Consultation with the community and industry will assure this type of development occurs in the right locations.


21.1 Promote development that respects the landscape attributes and the character of the metropolitan areas, towns and villages.

21.2 Focus development to create compact settlements in locations with established services and infrastructure, including the Maitland Corridor growth area; Newcastle–Lake Macquarie Western Corridor growth area; the emerging growth area around Cooranbong, Morisset and Wyee; and in existing towns and villages and sites identified in an endorsed regional or local strategy.

21.3 Identify opportunities for urban redevelopment or renewal in urban locations with access to public transport and services in the Greater Newcastle metropolitan area and where there may no longer be a need for employment land.

21.4 Create a well-planned, functional and compact settlement pattern that responds to settlement planning principles and does not encroach on sensitive land uses, including land subject to hazards, on drinking water catchments or on areas with high environmental values.

21.5 Promote small-scale renewal in existing urban areas, in consultation with the community and industry to ensure that this occurs in the right locations.

21.6 Provide greater housing choice by delivering diverse housing, lot types and sizes, including small-lot housing in infill and greenfield locations.

21.7 Promote new housing opportunities in urban areas to maximise the use of existing infrastructure.

Inner Newcastle map

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Direction 22 – Promote housing diversity

Trends that will shape housing demand in the Hunter region to 2036 include an increase in the ageing population. There are also discrete sectors of the community that are seeking particular types of housing; for example, students, older people, short term visitors, visitors accessing health services and low income households. Better understanding of the needs of these groups and how they differ across the region will help inform strategic and infrastructure planning and delivery.

By 2036, the Hunter is expected to be home to around 69,500 more people aged over 65 years.27 While the majority of these people are expected to live in Greater Newcastle, coastal communities in Port Stephens and the MidCoast, and many rural towns are also expected to age more rapidly than other parts of the Hunter.

Weekend and seasonal visitors will continue to influence local housing markets in coastal locations, driving demand for short term accommodation and holiday homes. Global fluctuations in resource markets will continue to influence housing markets in towns close to mines in the Upper Hunter. Further investigation is necessary to better understand these trends, anticipate their influence on housing and service demands, and provide an appropriate planning response. The number of single and couple-only households is growing; however, most houses in the Hunter region are three and four-bedroom detached homes. More studio and one and two-bedroom dwellings will be required to meet growing demand.

Similarly, social and affordable housing will be necessary to meet the needs of people on low incomes. Each community will have different housing needs and local solutions will have to be developed. Increasing the overall supply of housing will help to reduce pressure on the cost of housing.


22.1 Respond to the demand for housing and services for weekend visitors, students, seasonal workers, the ageing community and resource industry personnel.

22.2 Encourage housing diversity, including studios and one and two-bedroom dwellings, to match forecast changes in household sizes.

22.3 Develop local housing strategies to respond to housing needs, including social and affordable housing, and support initiatives to increase the supply of affordable housing.

22.4 Develop Settlement Planning Principles and a local planning toolkit to assist councils in implementing the Plan.

22.5 Include guidance in local land use strategies for expanding rural villages and rural–residential development so that such developments will:

  • not impact on strategic or important agricultural land, energy, mineral or extractive resource viability or biodiversity values;
  • not impact on drinking water catchments;
  • not result in greater natural hazard risk;
  • occur on land that is unlikely to be needed for urban development;
  • contribute to the conservation of important biodiversity values or the establishment of important corridor linkages; and>
  • facilitate expansion of existing and new tourism development activities in agricultural or resource lands and related industries across the region.
Direction 23 – Grow centres and renewal corridors

The Plan identifies regionally significant centres known as strategic centres. These and other smaller local centres operate as part of a network. Each centre provides a different service, role and/or function in the region. Strategic centres will be the focus for population and/or economic growth over the next 20 years.

Northern Lake Macquarie map

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There are other locally significant centres with administrative and service roles that will support surrounding communities. The capacity of these local centres to accommodate additional housing will need to be investigated where plans are not already in place.

Integrated transport planning across Greater Newcastle is becoming more important given the growing trend towards inner-city living. Identifying extensions, or new renewal corridors and precincts, will help to better integrate land use and transport planning. More information about the role and function of strategic centres is provided in the Local Government Narratives.


23.1 Concentrate growth in strategic centres, local centres and urban renewal corridors to support economic and population growth and a mix of uses.

23.2 Develop precinct plans for centres to take an integrated approach to transport, open space, urban form and liveable neighbourhoods, and investigate the capacity of centres to accommodate additional housing supply and diversity without compromising employment growth.

23.3 Consider improvements to the public transport network when planning new renewal corridors and precincts.

23.4 Investigate locations for new and expanded centres, including within the Newcastle–Lake Macquarie Western Corridor and Maitland Corridor growth areas, and in the established urban areas that are projected to have high demand for housing growth.

23.5 Focus commercial and retail development within existing centres and transport hubs and ensure that locations for new centres are integrated with existing or planned residential development; do not undermine existing centres; encompass high quality urban design; and consider transport and access requirements.

Strategic Centres
Upper Hunter
  • Muswellbrook
  • Scone
  • Singleton
  • Forester-Tuncurry
  • Taree
Lower Hunter
  • Broadmeadow Sport and Recreation Precinct (Emerging)
  • Central Maitland
  • Callaghan Precinct
  • Cessnock
  • Charlestown
  • East Maitland
  • Cardiff-Glendale (Emerging)
  • John Hunter Hospital
  • Kotara
  • Kurri Kurri
  • Morisset
  • Newcastle City Centre
  • Nelson Bay
  • Raymond Terrace
Global Gateways
  • Newcastle Airport
  • Port of Newcastle
Other locally significant centres are listed in the Local Government Area narratives.
Direction 24 – Protect the economic functions of employment land

Industry clusters close to the Hunter’s inter-regional transport networks and global gateways will improve efficiencies and make the region more attractive for investment. There are opportunities to grow the significant employment precincts at the Port of Newcastle, Newcastle Airport, Tomago, Hexham, Rutherford, Singleton, Morisset and Taree, and at the convergence of the national road network around Thornton, Beresfield and Black Hill. Better understanding is needed of the type of industry specialisation in these employment precincts and the best way that land use planning and infrastructure investment can provide support.

A number of factors influence the release of zoned employment land to the market, including demand and the strength of the economy. Employment land that is ‘shovel ready’ will be more attractive to new business. The timely and coordinated delivery of infrastructure can make land more attractive for business and also contribute to market demand.

As Greater Newcastle grows, the encroachment of urban activities and take-up of industrial lands for retail uses will influence where manufacturing, construction, transport and supply chain industries choose to locate. Industries looking to attract new investment to expand can take advantage of the high level of connectivity provided by the Hunter Expressway and John Renshaw Drive.

As employers relocate there are opportunities to investigate other potential uses of this land. Sites located close to public transport nodes may be appropriate for other uses, providing issues such as contamination can be resolved.


24.1 Locate new employment land so that it does not conflict with surrounding residential uses.

24.2 Protect the economic functions of employment land by not permitting non-industrial uses unless:

  • opportunities for urban renewal arise through the relocation of industry and in locations well-serviced by public transport; and
  • contaminated land can be remediated.

24.3 Provide for mixed use opportunities and themed employment precincts in local plans.

Direction 25 – Monitor housing and employment supply and demand

Regular monitoring of land supply and demand will permit the timely release of land for development. Over time, it will also contribute to better planning and infrastructure decision-making.

Up-to-date data will be provided to infrastructure providers, including councils, to better inform future infrastructure needs, priorities and service planning. Data will also be publicly available to inform private development and infrastructure investment decisions.


25.1 Establish and implement an Urban Development Program to develop data on existing zoned land supply and its servicing status, monitor dwelling production and take-up rates, and coordinate the staged release and rezoning of land.

25.2 Establish and implement an Employment Lands Development Program to develop data on existing and future planned stocks of employment land.

25.3 Sequence new greenfield urban development that makes efficient use of infrastructure networks and capacity.

25.4 Maintain an adequate supply of employment land that is appropriately serviced and to respond to changing industry demands for land use, location and floor space.

Direction 26 – Deliver infrastructure to support growth and communities

Growth will be supported by plans that collect contributions towards the cost of enabling and supporting infrastructure. The delivery of infrastructure and services will be aligned with the preferred staging of development. Development that occurs outside of this sequencing will be required to pay a greater proportion of infrastructure costs.

Greater collaboration between the NSW Government and councils on strategic planning and sequencing will enable all infrastructure providers to plan and deliver infrastructure that responds to demand.


26.1 Align land use and infrastructure planning to maximise the use and capacity of existing infrastructure and the efficiency of new infrastructure

26.2 Enable the delivery of health facilities, education, emergency services, energy production and supply, water and waste water, waste disposal areas, cemeteries and crematoria, in partnership with infrastructure providers.

26.3 Protect existing and planned major infrastructure corridors and sites, including inter-regional transport routes like the M1 Pacific Motorway and the railway, port and airports, to support their intended functions.

26.4 Coordinate the delivery of infrastructure to support the timely and efficient release of land for development, including working with councils and service providers on inter-regional infrastructure and service delivery issues between growing areas.

26.5 Ensure growth is serviced by enabling and supporting infrastructure.

26.6 Review and finalise the Hunter Special Infrastructure Contributions Plan.

Direction 27 – Strengthen the economic self-determination of Aboriginal communities

Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility and Empowerment (OCHRE) is the NSW Government’s plan for Aboriginal affairs. It focuses on:

  • revitalising and promoting Aboriginal languages and culture;
  • creating opportunities;
  • increasing the Aboriginal community’s capacity;
  • providing choice and empowering Aboriginal people to exercise that choice; and
  • giving Aboriginal people the tools to take responsibility for their own future.

The planning system can support the OCHRE process by helping Local Aboriginal Land Councils identify how their landholdings can best be planned, managed and developed. This gives the Aboriginal community greater opportunities for economic independence and is consistent with the overall aim of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW), which lays the foundations for a more secure economic and self-reliant future for all Aboriginal people in NSW.


27.1 Work with the Purfleet–Taree, Forster, Karuah, Worimi, Mindaribba, Awabakal, Bahtabah, Biraban and Wanaruah Local Aboriginal Land Councils to identify priority sites that can create a pipeline of potential projects.

27.2 Identify landholdings and map the level of constraint at a strategic scale for each site to develop options for the potential commercial use of the land.

Page last updated: 13/05/2022