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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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A sustainable future that maximises the advantages of the region’s diverse climates, landscapes and resources.

The region has maximised its expanding cotton, cereals, coal and solar energy potential in the west, and beef, fine wool and wind energy potential in the east, to create resilient and prosperous communities.


The New England North West is a strong, diverse and sustainable regional economy that has responded to changing agricultural practices and the expansion of mineral and energy resource sectors. Economic growth is supported by expanding service jobs and industries. 


New opportunities to grow the agriculture sector continue to be promoted. Sheep and cattle grazing, broadacre cereal crops, irrigated cotton, intensive livestock and plant agriculture and poultry production thrives and diversifies through innovation and efficiency improvements. 


Important agricultural land is protected as a fundamental component of the region’s rural identity and economic prosperity. The region’s agricultural producers are leaders in sustainable, water-efficient food and fibre production. 


Development opportunities around intensive agriculture and food processing industries have created new local job opportunities.


Investment in natural resources has enabled the  delivery of new industries, more local jobs and has leveraged the region’s skilled and innovative workforce. 


The potential to generate wind power on the tablelands and solar power in the west has been harnessed and this power added to the electricity grid to contribute to targets for renewable energy generation.


The region’s diverse settlements have distinctive characteristics. Communities have great places to live, work, visit and invest. The regional cities of Tamworth and Armidale thrive as centres of activity, providing more jobs, greater housing choice and high levels of services, including education, health and recreation.


Water demands have been managed to support industry, jobs and communities. This region has adapted to the water access reforms under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and urban settlements have access to safe and reliable water supplies.


Natural and cultural heritage assets have been conserved and celebrated, including the World Heritage listed Washpool, Gibraltar Range, Oxley Wild Rivers and Werrikimbe National Parks, the largest semi-arid woodland in NSW at Pilliga, and the nationally recognised Myall Creek Massacre and Memorial site.

To achieve this vision, the NSW Government has set the following regionally focused goals:

  • A growing and diversified agricultural sector;
  • A diversified economy through the management of mineral and energy resources, including renewable energy generation; 
  • Communities resilient to change, with housing choice and services that meet shifting needs and lifestyles; 
  • Prosperous urban centres with job opportunities; and
  • Protected water, environment and heritage.

New England North West regional plan strategy

Click to enlarge.

New England North West regional plan strategy map

The creation of a Draft New England North West Regional Plan is an important and significant strategy to design a road map for strong development and growth over the next 20 years.


This draft Plan outlines the vision for that growth and identifies the building blocks to ensure a diverse and sustainable regional economy that continues to drive development.




It outlines the goals and actions that protect and grow the agricultural sector, support agribusiness, develop the mineral and energy sectors and expand opportunities for renewable energy.


The development of the Draft New England North West Regional Plan reflects this region’s importance and the need to plan for its sustainable future.


The New England North West has one of the strongest economies in regional NSW and is one of the top agricultural producing regions in the State, providing one-quarter of the State’s agricultural output.


The varied landscapes of the New England North West – ranging from its cooler and more temperate tablelands to the highly productive slopes and plains - have contributed to the region’s significant agricultural productivity and rich biodiversity, and helped to underpin its prosperous communities.


Over the next 20 years, Tamworth and Armidale will grow to accommodate over half the region’s population.


The draft Plan proposes greater housing choice, more jobs and expanded services to help the centres across the region to meet the changing needs of the community, including the ageing population.


Road and transport improvements are proposed within and between the centres to improve access to jobs and services.


Community prosperity and wellbeing depend on the health and productivity of the region’s natural environment and resources. The majority of the region is located within the Murray Darling Basin where sustainable water management is crucial.


Protecting water quality and catchments, areas of high environmental value, and Aboriginal and historic heritage are priorities in the draft Plan.


We want to know what you think about the vision, goals and actions in this 20-year plan for the New England North West so we can achieve a sustainable future for this important region.


Please have your say.


Adam Marshall
Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW

The Draft New England North West Regional Plan applies to 12 local government areas – Tenterfield, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Armidale Regional, Uralla, Walcha, Gwydir, Tamworth Regional, Liverpool Plains, Gunnedah, Narrabri and Moree Plains.


The region encompasses the traditional lands of the Anaiwan, Banbai, Bundjalung, Githabul, Gumbaynggirr, Kamilaroi, Kwiambul, Ngoorabul and Dunghutti peoples.


This is a region of diverse landscapes, including rainforest-covered volcanic plateaus and escarpments, alpine communities on the Great Dividing Range, remnant inland forests, wetlands of national and international significance, diverse grasslands and productive wide open slopes and plains. These landscapes underpin a quarter of the State’s agricultural output, represent the State’s third largest coal reserves and include significant biodiversity.


The New England North West has a strong and growing economy that is valued at almost $8.9 billion and supports almost 67,000 jobs. The economy grew by 5.1 per cent between 2006 and 2013, which is higher than the 4.8 per cent growth rate for regional NSW over the same period.1


The agricultural and natural resource sectors are at the centre of this region’s economic future. Total agricultural activities contribute around $2.5 billion to the NSW and national economy,2 making the region one of the State’s most significant agricultural producers. Mineral and energy resources contribute in the order of $1.7 billion to the region. The development of these resources, in appropriate locations, will provide more local job opportunities and expand mining-related services. As a prime location for wind and solar power, the region has the potential to be a leader in renewable energy generation.


Over the next 20 years to 2036, the population is expected to grow by 13,800 to over 202,000. The two regional cities, Tamworth and Armidale, will support over half the region’s population by 2036 and their development will help to drive growth for the region. A further 28 per cent of the population will reside in the four strategic centres of Inverell, Narrabri, Gunnedah and Moree.3


The service sectors located in urban centres are important to the economic prosperity of the region, representing almost two-thirds of employment and almost half of the output of the region. The health and education sectors account for 24 per cent of the workforce and will continue to grow and expand.4


Located between Sydney and Brisbane, with good transport connections to Newcastle and South East Queensland, the region is well located to access both domestic and international markets. Producers can choose to move goods north to Brisbane, or south-east to Newcastle and Sydney. The movement of coal dominates the rail freight network. Freight movements generated by the coal industry are funding improved access along the Hunter Valley Coal Chain.


This draft Plan promotes a holistic approach to land, environmental, water and natural resource management. It aims to maintain the productive capacity of natural resources, improve the agriculture sector’s capacity to cope with changes in markets and weather patterns, and maintain and preserve areas of high environmental value, water catchments and heritage. It provides an overarching framework to guide development and investment in the New England North West to 2036.


The draft Plan consolidates strategic planning considerations for land use and infrastructure for the local government areas of the New England North West. Once the plan is finalised, it will replace the New England North West Strategic Regional Land Use Plan, released by the NSW Government in 2012.


Underpinning the planning framework for this draft Plan are the following key principles:

  • facilitate economic growth, environmental management and social wellbeing;
  • respond to the region’s landscape, environmental assets, natural and cultural resources, mineral and energy resources, (including renewable energy);
  • respond to long term structural economic and demographic changes, with a focus on ageing, migration patterns and productivity;
  • address the implications of climate change and build resilience to natural hazards;
  • guide the locations for new housing and provide a diversity of housing choice;
  • facilitate economic activities consistent with changing market demands and industry needs;
  • inform infrastructure and services investment, coordinated with land use; and
  • integrate cross-border drivers of change and coordinate responses Statewide and nationally.


New England North West districts

The New England North West has two discrete districts that focus on specific centres and reflect shared characteristics, landforms, land use, geographical proximity, social links and existing services. These districts are:

  • New England – comprising Tenterfield, Inverell, Glen Innes Severn, Armidale Regional, Walcha and Uralla Local Government Areas; and
  • North West – comprising Moree Plains, Gwydir, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Liverpool Plains and Tamworth Regional Local Government Areas.


Developing the draft Plan

The draft Plan incorporates research and expert advice about future development challenges and opportunities. Engagement with councils helped to identify community and stakeholder issues.


The following evidence forms the basis of the draft Plan:

  • Department of Planning and Environment (2016), NSW Population Projections 2011-36;
  • SGS Economics and Planning (2016), Housing Analysis of the New England North West;
  • RMCG (2015), Agricultural Expansion Analysis: New England North West;
  • Department of Planning and Environment (2016), New England North West Housing and Land Monitor;
  • Department of Planning and Infrastructure (2012), New England North West Strategic Regional Land Use Plan; and
  • Department of Industry (Division of Resources and Energy) Geoscientific Data, including data held on the Common Ground website.


Additional evidence was also considered as follows:

  • Transport for NSW (2013), New England North West Regional Transport Plan;
  • Office of Environment and Heritage (2015), Potential High Environmental Value Mapping;
  • Department of Industry (2015), Economic Development Strategy for Regional NSW;
  • Northern Inland Regional Development Australia (2012), Northern Inland Region of NSW – Freight Study; and
  • Catchment Action Plans.


The process of building the draft plan

The process of building the draft regional plan for New England North West

Achieving the vision and the goals of the final Plan will be a shared responsibility, requiring ongoing commitment from all stakeholders, including councils, agencies and the development and services sectors.



A Coordination and Monitoring Committee will be established to oversee the implementation of the final Plan. It will comprise representatives from the Department of Planning and Environment, two Local Government representatives determined by the Regional Organisations of Councils (or Joint Organisations once established), Department of Premier and Cabinet, Office of Environment and Heritage, Transport for NSW and Department of Industry (including Department of Primary Industries).


The committee will:

  • coordinate and drive delivery of actions, supported by an Implementation Plan;
  • establish a framework to monitor issues such as:
    • population;
    • housing;
    • economy and employment; and
    • natural environment and resources;
  • prepare an annual report detailing progress against the actions identified in the Plan; and
  • review, update and revise the Plan every five years or as necessary.


The Coordination and Monitoring Committee will be chaired by the Department of Planning and Environment to oversee progress on projects and identify where policy interventions or resourcing may be required.


It will be supplemented by outcome-specific groups that bring in appropriate personnel to provide advice on particular issues or projects in the Plan.


Coordination and monitoring committee structure

New England North West coordination and monitoring committee chart



The actions in the final New England North West Regional Plan will be implemented through:

  • local planning directions under section 9.1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, issued by the Minister for Planning;
  • whole-of-government policy alignment; and
  • regional collaboration across government, business, key stakeholders and the wider community for specific projects and processes.


The NSW Government will be responsible for implementing these actions and will work with councils on relevant initiatives.


Infrastructure coordination

The draft Plan aligns regional planning for housing and economic activity to existing and planned infrastructure investments. The infrastructure context and priorities in this draft Plan are drawn from the Rebuilding NSW – State Infrastructure Strategy (2014), NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan (2012), the Economic Development Strategy for Regional NSW (2015), New England North West Regional Transport Plan (2013), NSW Freight and Ports Strategy (2013), Local Water Utilities’ strategic business plans and the operational plans of electricity providers.


The NSW Government will use the final Plan, along with annual monitoring of development activity to advise infrastructure agencies about the timing of new developments in order to inform infrastructure service planning, asset management and services. Opportunities for private sector delivery of infrastructure will also be explored to support growth.


The NSW Government will continue to work with State infrastructure providers to plan and deliver infrastructure that responds to place and community needs across regional NSW. This includes:

  • aligning future infrastructure priorities to support planned growth and change;
  • coordinating infrastructure delivery to support strategic employment and housing land; and
  • exploring innovative design and delivery approaches across infrastructure sectors.

Local planning initiatives

A Ministerial Direction will require all councils to implement the objectives and actions of the final Plan, appropriate to their local area, in their council planning strategies and local environmental plans.


Reviews of and amendments to planning strategies and local environmental plans will need to be consistent with the policies and actions in the final Plan.


Once finalised, the Plan will replace the current strategic plan for the region, the New England North West Strategic Regional Land Use Plan. The relevant policies will continue to apply and are addressed in this draft plan.

Page last updated: 24/09/2019