NSW Department of Planning and Environment

The strength, diversity and character of the New England North West’s communities will drive a successful future. New opportunities and challenges will emerge as changes in agricultural methods, transport connectivity, climate and demography reshape these communities. An attractive lifestyle and high-quality employment, housing, health and education options will contribute to population growth of 13,800 people by 2036.

Greater housing diversity will support the increasing number of single person and couple only households. Healthy, safe and inclusive places will enhance active and inclusive lifestyles.

Population growth will not be evenly distributed. The highest rates of growth are projected in regional cities and some strategic centres. The population of other centres is likely to remain stable or in some cases decline.

These numbers do not reflect the dynamic nature of many of these communities that often have transient workers, tourists, and populations that fluctuate at different times of the year. Increasing the number of value-adding opportunities and delivering greater housing choice will make these communities more resilient and adaptive to growth and change.

Rich and diverse Aboriginal and historic heritage contributes to the charm and identity of New England North West. The Anaiwan, Banbai, Bundjalung, Githabul, Gumbaynggirr, Kamilaroi, Kwaimbul, Ngoorabal and Dunghutti are the first people of the New England North West. They have a spiritual, social, cultural and economic relationship with their traditional land and waters.

Aboriginal cultural heritage and communities will be respected and supported. Historic heritage assets will be protected through revitalisation, supporting thriving communities and great places to live.

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Direction 17 – Strengthen community resilience

Communities need to be informed, proactive and collaborative in meeting the challenges ahead. Centres must be robust and dynamic places to increase their appeal for residents and contribute to growth and prosperity.

Over the last century, the population has increasingly concentrated in regional cities and centres. This is expected to continue, and some communities are projected to experience lower growth rates, stabilisation, or, in some cases, population declines.

Smaller centres and rural communities can provide more affordable housing and attractive lifestyles - these should be supported with good access to the network of regional cities and strategic centres for higher-level services.

Establishing strong networks within the region, with centres in adjoining regions and Queensland will build community resilience and capacity. This will be a shared responsibility between communities, organisations, businesses and government.

Local strategies should identify and manage drivers of change and capitalise on community strengths. Based on increased collaboration between community leaders and industry sectors, these strategies should promote local opportunities to expand and diversify economic activity; attract investment; retain and attract younger people, including families and professionals; and integrate infrastructure and transport planning.

Local economic prospectuses or investment strategies can showcase local opportunities and address barriers to growth and investment. Targeted expansion of service-based sectors, agribusiness and tourism, including coordinating and attracting events and festivals, should also be addressed.

Tools for Resilient Communities

Economic attraction:

The New England North West’s established and emerging industries are expected to flourish. Councils or wider collaborations need to market their area, champion local economic and investment opportunities, connect investors and accelerate opportunities.

Precinct planning:

Precinct planning establishes a clear local vision and provides a planning framework that facilitates and maximises investment opportunities.

NSW Government frameworks:

The NSW Strengthening Rural Communities Resource Kit (2001 - to be updated), NSW Drought Strategy (2015) and the Western NSW Mining and Resource Development Taskforce provide information to help communities capitalise on social and economic opportunities and address challenges.


17.1 Develop local plans and economic strategies that:

  • raise the profile of the area and awareness of opportunities for employment, business development and quality of life;
  • target opportunities for younger demographics; and
  • foster collaboration with business sectors to develop employment opportunities that can attract and retain younger people and professional and skilled workers.

17.2 Prepare precinct plans to guide development and establish appropriate land use zoning, development standards and developer contributions.

17.3 Implement the outcomes of the Western NSW Mining and Resource Development Taskforce to harness the economic benefits of mining, and help communities plan for the implications of mining.

17.4 Update the Strengthening Rural Communities Resource Kit.

Direction 18 – Provide great places to live

Around 9,700 additional homes will be required to support future growth and provide for changing household types over the next 20 years.11 Changes to household structure and average household size mean that housing demand will remain strong.

Developed in consultation with communities, local growth management strategies will analyse land suitability and local housing needs to direct development to the right locations. These strategies will enable communities to consider and assess the broader implications and consequences of identifying locations for future development. Further consultation will occur when rezonings are proposed for urban expansion or rural residential use.

A ready supply of well located land for residential development will create downward pressure on house prices, maximise infrastructure use and protect environmental and agricultural values. Focusing growth in existing urban centres, or in areas adjacent to existing urban development will foster liveability and a stronger sense of community. This approach will support existing commercial areas, reduce infrastructure cost and maximise walking, cycling and other transport connections.

Interim Settlement Planning Principles (Appendix A) will ensure that new development is well located; responds to existing urban and rural settlements; addresses land constraints; and fosters great places to live, work and play. The guidelines will be used to consider whether proposals for urban expansion and local growth management strategies will be endorsed.


18.1 Identify future areas of urban expansion or intensification in local growth management strategies that are consistent with the Interim Settlement Planning Principles, (Appendix A) or comprehensive settlement planning guidelines once released.

18.2 Secure an appropriate supply of residential land to meet projected housing needs within local growth management strategies endorsed by the Department.

18.3 Develop comprehensive settlement planning guidelines.

18.4 Monitor the supply of residential land and housing through the New England North West Housing and Land Monitor.

Direction 19 – Support healthy, safe, socially engaged and well connected communities

The structure and design of communities, including streetscapes, recreation areas and community facilities can influence community health, wellbeing and social cohesion.

Housing services and facilities within walking distance of each other, or easily accessible by public transport, make it easier for people to be active while accessing services. The NSW Government is developing healthy living guidelines to support active living.

More people will use expanded recreational walking and cycling trails to experience a range of communities and natural areas. Accessible public transport links and high-quality pedestrian and cycling infrastructure should be a priority in all communities.

With an increase in the ageing population, public and community transport will assume greater importance. Appropriate transport links will allow older people to continue living in their home or community.

All communities need access to social infrastructure, such as child care facilities and emergency accommodation. Councils should establish benchmarks to support communities with timely social infrastructure delivery and create focal points for social participation.

Crime prevention through environmental design principles can reduce the potential for crime through design and place management, helping people to feel safe and more comfortable. Safe, active and lively community spaces are often supported by events and promotion. This fosters healthy living through physical activity, social interaction and community pride.


19.1 Deliver best-practice guidelines for planning, designing and developing healthy built environments.

19.2 Facilitate more recreational walking and cycling paths, linkages with centres and public transport, and expand inter-regional and intra-regional walking and cycling links.

19.3 Establish social infrastructure benchmarks, minimum standards and social impact assessment frameworks within local planning.

19.4 Deliver crime prevention through environmental design outcomes through urban design processes.

Direction 20 – Deliver greater housing diversity to suit changing needs

Greater housing diversity will address projected demand for smaller housing types,12 changing household needs and different household budgets. With 90 per cent of current dwellings single-detached,13 opportunities exist to establish targeted planning and development incentives that promote a more diverse range of housing within new and existing urban areas.

Local growth management strategies must consider local housing needs based on household and demographic changes, and plan for a range of housing choices.

Regional cities and centres will accommodate most new housing. Encouraging a wider range of housing in appropriate locations, including shop-top housing, townhouses and small-lot homes, will take advantage of established services and infrastructure while also supporting the vitality of business areas. In other centres, planning provisions and incentives can also support a wider range of lot sizes and building forms such as secondary dwellings and dual occupancies.

Older people will find it easier to stay in their homes through the development of liveable homes that are easy to enter and navigate, responsive to the changing needs of occupants and relatively easy to adapt (for injured, disabled or elderly residents). Local growth management strategies should also identify potential locations for retirement villages and nursing homes.

Housing to meet community need across a range of incomes can help address housing affordability and social housing needs. Appropriate planning controls and incentives include:

  • reduced contributions or other development incentives that may boost construction of secondary dwellings as alternative affordable housing;
  • planning incentives or negotiated planning agreements to encourage private investment in social and affordable housing;
  • promotion of caravan parks and manufactured home estates on unconstrained land in existing settlements and new land release areas; and
  • local affordability analysis in local growth management strategies and planning proposals that identify responsive lot size and planning controls.

Construction of large-scale infrastructure and resource projects and seasonal agricultural employment can increase transient populations and place pressure on housing and accommodation supply.

Peaks in housing demand may be satisfied through short-term workers’ accommodation as an alternative to expanding permanent housing stock, which can lead to an oversupply in the longer term.

Temporary housing villages should contribute positively to the entire community and not unnecessarily duplicate existing services and facilities.

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20.1 Develop local growth management strategies to respond to changing housing needs, including household and demographic changes.

20.2 Prepare guidelines for local housing strategies that will provide guidance on achieving greater housing diversity and planning for local affordable housing needs.

20.3 Promote ageing-in-place by adopting elements of Livable Housing Australia’s Livable Housing Design Guidelines in development controls for housing, where possible.

20.4 Deliver more opportunities for affordable housing by incorporating policies and tools into local growth management strategies and local plans that will incentivise private investment in affordable housing.

20.5 Facilitate housing and accommodation options for seasonal and itinerant workers by:

  • preparing planning guidelines for seasonal and itinerant workers accommodation to inform the location and design of future facilities; and
  • working with councils to consider opportunities to permit such facilities through local environmental plans.
Direction 21 – Deliver well planned rural residential housing

Rural residential housing is a popular lifestyle housing option. If not appropriately located, it can conflict with important agricultural, urban, industrial or resource lands or increase pressure for new services and infrastructure outside existing settlements.

New rural residential housing must promote sustainable land use outcomes. Local growth management strategies will identify appropriate locations for new rural residential land release areas and broader land use implications.

Local growth management strategies must consider and address Principles 1-5 of the Interim Settlement Planning Principles (Appendix A) when identifying new rural residential release areas. The interim framework will apply until a more a comprehensive framework is prepared.

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21.1 Enable new rural residential development where identified in a local growth management strategy prepared by council and endorsed by the Department.
21.2 Deliver rural residential development consistent with Principles 1-5 of the Interim Settlement Planning Principles (Appendix A) or comprehensive framework once released.

Direction 22 – Increase the economic self-determination of Aboriginal communities

There are significant opportunities to build wealth and strengthen economic independence in Aboriginal communities. Economic strength will assist in community empowerment and participation, and the protection of cultural heritage. Economic opportunities can stem from a range of sources, including land held by Aboriginal communities, promotion of language and culture and from the enterprise and innovation already empowering many Aboriginal communities.

OCHRE (Opportunity, Choice, Healing, Responsibility and Empowerment) is the NSW Government’s plan for Aboriginal communities. It focuses on revitalising and promoting Aboriginal languages and culture; creating opportunities and capacity; providing choice, and empowering Aboriginal people to exercise that choice; and providing the tools to help Aboriginal people to take responsibility for their own future.

Aboriginal Affairs NSW and the Department of Planning and Environment will work with Local Aboriginal Land Councils to identify their landholdings and to map the level of constraints for each site. Aboriginal communities can then consider potential uses of the land for housing and employment opportunities. This could provide economic returns to local communities that can be invested in community programs.

Other approaches to increasing economic independence include developing tailored training on the planning system, to assist in knowledge sharing and the empowerment of local Aboriginal communities, devising targeted procurement policies that engage Aboriginal consultants and contractors, and supporting place-based initiatives that identify opportunities to support local communities, such as Aboriginal cultural tourism.


22.1 Deliver opportunities to increase the economic independence of Aboriginal communities through training, employment and tourism.

22.2 Foster closer cooperation with Local Aboriginal Land Councils to identify the unique potential and assets of the New England North West’s communities.

22.3 Identify priority sites with economic development potential that Local Aboriginal Land Councils may wish to consider for further investigation.

Direction 23 – Collaborate with Aboriginal communities to respect and protect Aboriginal culture and heritage

The New England North West has a rich Aboriginal heritage. Significant cultural sites and Aboriginal places include the resting place of the spiritual creature, Garriya (the rainbow serpent) at Boobera Lagoon and the Myall Creek Massacre and Memorial Site. The connection of Aboriginal communities to their ancestral country is a result of passing down histories and ‘place awareness’ through generations. Consultation processes on future land use planning should acknowledge, respect and consider Aboriginal interests and responsibilities through the planning process.

Aboriginal heritage includes places and objects of significance to Aboriginal people because of their traditions, observances, lore, customs, beliefs and history, such as pre-contact, habitation and usage sites, burial sites, battle sites and camping, hunting or fishing sites. Aboriginal cultural heritage also relates to the connection and sense of belonging that people have with the landscape and with each other.

It is likely that objects and sites of Aboriginal heritage significance are under-recorded, which makes them more vulnerable to accidental damage, and consequently, improper conservation management.

Engagement and partnerships with Aboriginal communities will increase information sharing and better manage cultural heritage.

Local planning strategies and plans prepared in consultation with Aboriginal communities will build trust and tap into their unique local knowledge. This will empower Aboriginal communities to identify their own issues, strategic directions and solutions. It requires mechanisms that acknowledge the diversity of Aboriginal communities and the resources needed to participate.

Harm to Aboriginal objects and places - or areas of significance to Aboriginal people - should be avoided. Any proposed management or development activity must consider the potential impacts on Aboriginal cultural heritage values.


23.1 Ensure Aboriginal communities are engaged throughout the preparation of local planning strategies and local plans.

23.2 Prepare maps to identify sites of Aboriginal heritage in new land release areas, where culturally appropriate, to inform planning strategies and local plans to protect Aboriginal heritage.

23.3 Develop partnerships with Aboriginal communities to facilitate engagement during the planning process, including the development of engagement protocols.

23.4 Undertake Aboriginal cultural heritage assessments to inform the design of planning and development proposals so that impacts to Aboriginal cultural heritage are avoided and appropriate heritage management mechanisms are identified.

23.5 Develop local heritage studies in consultation with the local Aboriginal community and adopt appropriate measures in planning strategies and local plans to avoid and protect Aboriginal heritage.

Direction 24 – Protect the region’s historic heritage assets

The New England North West’s historic heritage assets enrich its identity and character and attract visitors to support local economies and communities.

Local heritage studies, developed with the community, will identify, protect and manage heritage items.

Regeneration of heritage assets through adaptive re-use, as has been successfully achieved at the Sir Henry Parkes School of Arts building in Tenterfield and the Roxy Theatre in Bingara, can preserve and restore heritage items and deliver unique places.

If impacts from development to heritage items and areas cannot be avoided, proposals that reduce impacts through sympathetic design must be developed in accordance with relevant statutory processes.

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24.1 Prepare, review and update heritage studies in consultation with the wider community to identify and protect heritage items, and include appropriate local planning controls.

24.2 Ensure best-practice guidelines are considered such as the Australia International Council on Monuments and Sites Charter for Places of Cultural Significance and the NSW Heritage Manual when assessing heritage significance.

24.3 Develop conservation management policies for heritage items and areas to provide for sympathetic and adaptive use of heritage items and assets.

Page last updated: 28/07/2022