NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Nationally valued landscapes and strong, successful communities from the Great Dividing Range to the rich black soil plains

Diverse landscapes, rich natural resources and strong communities make the New England North West a dynamic and prosperous region that capitalises on its past and is building for the future.

Growth in agriculture, agribusiness, livestock meat production, mineral resource development, renewable energy, health and education is providing jobs and supporting thriving local communities.

Primary production, intensive agriculture and food processing sectors take advantage of the rich soils and climate. National and international demand for energy is the impetus for the thriving renewable energy sector harnessing the high solar and wind potential.

Strategically located, with close links between some of Australia’s fastest growing areas – South East Queensland, Newcastle and Sydney - is attracting industry investment. Upgrades to airports, the Newell, New England, Oxley, Gwydir and Kamilaroi Highways, and the development of the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail and intermodal freight terminals are making it easier for goods, services and people to move across the region and beyond.

The National Broadband Network drives innovation, research and new industries that support traditional sectors to deliver an economically sustainable future. The University of New England remains at the forefront of technological change and opportunities to grow the region.

Important agricultural land, such as the Liverpool Plains, is protected and agricultural producers lead sustainable and water-efficient food and fibre production to meet demand from domestic and international markets.

Communities are well connected, attractive, healthy, safe and prosperous. They are places with a strong sense of community identity, resilience and respect for country. People access a range of employment opportunities, housing choices, vibrant events and festivals and high quality education, health, recreational and other community services.

Nature based and cultural heritage tourism, visitation to the World Heritage-listed New England and Oxley Wild Rivers National Parks and many festivals and events is attracting investment in world-class facilities and vibrant communities.

Residents and visitors enjoy a beautiful and healthy natural environment that includes the Gwydir Wetlands. Sustainable and innovative approaches utilise and maximise important water resources.

Acknowledging, protecting and celebrating Aboriginal cultural heritage and historic heritage reinforces the character of the region, while consolidating community wellbeing and a strong sense of belonging.

To achieve this vision, the NSW Government has acknowledged the opportunities provided by natural resources and strong communities and set the following regionally focused goals:

  • A strong and dynamic regional economy
  • A healthy environment with pristine waterways
  • Strong infrastructure and transport networks for a connected future
  • Attractive and thriving communities

New England North West 2036 Vision

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Leveraging existing strengths to be a leading 21st Century regional economy

A key component in the New England North West’s success

The New England North West’s landscapes range from cooler and more temperate tablelands to the western slopes and plains. These diverse landscapes underpin productive agriculture and rich biodiversity. Driving one of NSW’s strongest regional economies and one of the State’s top agricultural producing regions. Intensive agriculture and agribusiness is growing, capitalising on increased demand from Asia.

From this strong economic base and the strategic position between Sydney and South East Queensland, new opportunities for employment will be offered in emerging renewable energy and green technology industries.

A network of strong centres and cities has developed from the region’s productive natural resources. Each community has its own character and identity, and each contributes to economic diversity and growth.

These places will be the focus for new homes for the growing population, along with the jobs and services that will continue to support high-quality lifestyles.

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Developing 21st Century industries

The world is moving into an age where the contribution of knowledge, creativity, innovation and design skills will directly influence economic competitiveness. New and innovative industries can take advantage of the region’s natural assets providing opportunities to expand and diversify the economy.

Young families will be drawn to the diverse and expanding economy, which will create flow-on demand for population-focused business and services. New renewable energy generation and ‘green’ industries provide eco-friendly alternatives and solutions to environmental issues and challenges.

The strong education sector based around the University of New England and TAFE NSW creates collaboration and networks between business, industry and research institutions. Armidale is the headquarters for TAFE Digital, contributing to the education sector in the region. As demand for a skilled workforce grows, the region will be better able to support future populations with diversified employment choices. new england north west  leveraging existing strengths circles 1200x 222


Feeding the state

Growing broadacre and grazing sectors and expanding intensive agriculture and food processing will drive economic prosperity and jobs growth. The size and wealth of the Asian middle class creates opportunities for Australia’s premium agricultural exports.

The intensive agriculture and food processing sectors are rapidly expanding. The poultry industry has grown around Tamworth and into Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains. This and other emerging sectors can diversify the agricultural economy, promote value-adding opportunities and create employment.

Continued agricultural innovation and technology, led by research and development facilities in Narrabri, Glen Innes, Tamworth and Armidale offer the potential to diversify and grow broadacre agriculture and grazing that will make the region a leader in 21st Century agricultural production.

A Regional Intensive Agribusiness Strategy will guide how industry can capitalise on local grain and feed production, freight networks and access to national and international markets.

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Strong economic centres

The network of regional cities and centres support diverse industries. As these industries grow, centres will thrive and require high-quality health, education and recreation options.

The regional cities of Tamworth and Armidale, and the strategic centres of Gunnedah, Narrabri, Moree, Inverell and Glen Innes will be the focus for employment and services. Tenterfield, Uralla, Guyra, Walcha, Warialda and Quirindi will service their local communities.

The regional cities and centres cluster economic activity around local industries, acting as a source of economic diversity and skilled job opportunities.

With health and education the fastest growing employment sectors, activities associated with Tamworth Hospital and the University of New England can foster economic activity through new jobs and services.

Tourism and major events, such as the Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Autumn Festival in Armidale, the Australian Celtic Festival at Glen Innes, and AqQuip - Australia’s largest and premier primary industry field days - in Gunnedah, will support the vitality of centres and will continue to offer regional growth opportunities.

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Accessing the world

Industries rely on efficient freight networks and ready access to domestic and international markets. Connectivity to gateway airports and ports in Newcastle, Brisbane and Sydney through strong transport networks and new telecommunications choices, will be the backbone of the economy and communities.


The Newell, Oxley, Gwydir, Kamilaroi and New England highways, and the rail line to Newcastle and Sydney, provide bulk shipping and high capacity freight networks that contribute to productivity and competitiveness. Strengthening these connections will attract investment, business and residents.

New international freight opportunities through the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, expanded Tamworth Regional Airport, and the proposed Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail project will open access to new markets.

Growth in freight volumes, both within the region and along Australia’s east coast, is driving demand for more efficient and higher-capacity freight and logistics facilities. Investment in intermodal facilities will maximise efficiencies and could shift agricultural freight from bulk to smaller volumes by packaging in containers for a greater range of export destinations.

Technology, including the National Broadband Network, will provide new access and greater opportunities. Armidale’s advantages as Australia’s first mainland centre connected to the National Broadband Network must be replicated in all centres and facilitate innovation and growth.

Green Industries

Green industries are businesses, facilities, services or technologies that provide sustainable alternatives or solutions to environmental challenges. Examples include bottle recycling plants, waste management and treatment or research and development for clean energy.

Australian Recycled Plastics

Australian Recycled Plastics in Narrabri is a regional green industry success story. The facility processes recycled plastic waste that it obtains by ‘back loading’ empty cotton haulage trucks returning from Newcastle and Sydney. Each week, the facility turns 50 tonnes of recycled plastic bottles into a flake material used in products from supermarket meat trays to outdoor decking material. The growing business now employs 42 people.

Inter-regional transport connections

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Ranging from World Heritage listed rainforests along the Great Dividing Range to the agriculturally productive plains around Narrabri and Moree, the New England North West is one of the most dynamic, productive and liveable parts of NSW.

The New England North West is also one of the State’s largest agricultural and food producers.

Intensive agriculture, grazing, food processing, broadacre cropping and wide tracts of productive agricultural land are the foundations for a strong and prosperous future.

The region is perfectly placed to expand supply chains across national and global markets, with extensive freight networks and key freight connections to the Port of Newcastle, Sydney and ports and airports in South East Queensland.

Agribusiness, education and healthcare, manufacturing, extractive industries and increasing opportunities for renewable energy and new technologies will make the economy one of the most diverse in NSW.

We will continue to protect the outstanding natural environment for future generations, including world recognised wetlands at Moree, tableland rainforests extending from Walcha to Tenterfield and the ancient volcanoes at Mount Kaputar outside Narrabri.

These outstanding natural attractions, coupled with many industry and cultural festivals, such as AgQuip and the Tamworth Country Music Festival, will be leveraged to ensure the region remains a leading tourist destination.

The New England North West is renowned for its vibrant communities and beautiful centres rich with heritage at Glen Innes, Inverell and Gunnedah. This Plan focuses on retaining local character, promoting the growth of all centres and delivering diverse housing choices to meet the needs of changing communities.

The regional cities of Tamworth and Armidale will accommodate much of the projected population growth over the next 20 years, supporting critical jobs growth and providing the region with key health and education services.

By focusing population growth in centres, prime agricultural land and the natural environment will be protected for future use and future generations.

The Anaiwan, Banbai, Bundjalung, Githabul, Gumbaynggirr, Kamilaroi, Kwaimbul, Ngoorabal and Dunghutti are the traditional custodians of the region and are key partners in the development of the regions’ social, economic and environmental future. We will work with them to ensure a prosperous future.

The New England North West Regional Plan 2036 encompasses a vision, goals, directions and actions aiming to deliver greater prosperity in the years ahead for those who live, work and visit this important region.

I look forward to working with the local communities and stakeholders to support the success of the New England North West.

Anthony Roberts MP
Minister for Planning
Minister for Housing
Special Minister of State


Maximising opportunities provided by rich natural resources and strong communities

From the tablelands of the Great Dividing Range to the wide open black soil plains, the New England North West is one of Australia’s most productive agricultural areas. It is home to nationally recognised tourist destinations, a growing mineral resource sector and significant biodiversity. This strong economic base will provide opportunities in emerging industries across renewable energy, green technology and food and fibre processing to meet growing demand from Asia.

Strategically located between Sydney and Brisbane, the high-quality transport networks to Newcastle, Sydney and South East Queensland will provide ready access to domestic and international markets and services.

Regional cities and centres will provide opportunities for new jobs, housing, education and health services to create healthy and thriving regional communities supported by a vibrant and dynamic economy.

The next 20 years will be an exciting period of change and growth as new industries emerge, communities grow and connect, and the regional economy continues to flourish. The New England North West Regional Plan 2036 is the blueprint to deliver this exciting future.

The Plan will guide the NSW Government’s land use planning priorities and decisions to 2036. It is not intended to be a step-by-step approach to all land use planning. Rather, it provides an overarching framework to guide subsequent and more detailed land use plans, development proposals and infrastructure funding decisions.

The Implementation Plan that accompanies this Plan includes Priority actions as well as medium and longer-term actions to coincide with population and economic change.

Priorities for each council are set out in Local Government Narratives, which will guide further investigations and implementation.

The Plan is the product of extensive consultation with councils, stakeholders and the wider community, conducted around the draft Plan which was released in 2016. The feedback from this consultation is integral to this final New England North West Regional Plan 2036.

Investment in New England North West

NSW Government investments in the New England North West include:

  • more than $240 million to secure water for the region with $213 million to upgrade Keepit Dam and $31 million for Chaffey Dam;
  • more than $60 million to upgrade Armidale Hospital;
  • $17 million to upgrade Moree East Public School and Narrabri Public School; and
  • more than $5 million to upgrade Gunnedah Police Station.

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Delivering the Plan

The NSW Government’s commitment

To implement the New England North West Regional Plan 2036, all levels of government, the private sector and the community will need to work together. The Plan will be incorporated into each stakeholder’s future activities.


The NSW Government has established the New England North West Delivery, Coordination and Monitoring Committee to deliver, coordinate and be accountable for achieving the vision and goals of the Plan (see below table). This new dedicated body comprises councils and State agencies. It will listen and work with stakeholders to align growth with infrastructure to support growth and change in the region.

New England North West Delivery, Coordination and Monitoring Committee

Coordination Delivery Accountability
  • Aligning across Government
  • Partnering with local government
  • Informing infrastructure priorities
  • Guiding investment
  • Listening to the community
  • Actioning the Implementation Plan
  • Directing local growth
  • Supporting local planning
  • Monitoring activity and trends
  • Publishing annual reports and information
  • Revising and adjusting directions towards goals


The Committee will take ownership for implementing this Plan, prioritising the actions needed to seize on immediate and emerging opportunities for the region. In the short term, its focus will be on supporting cities, important farmland, renewable energy projects and tourism opportunities. Over time, the Committee will identify new priorities to support growth and change.

Funding will be coordinated for regional infrastructure covering transport, health, education, open space, recreation, emergency services and justice.

This Plan sets regional planning priorities and provides guidance and direction for regional and local planning decisions. It identifies where to focus new housing and jobs to deliver social and economic benefits. The Plan sets in place strategic, line-of-sight land use planning for the region and each local government area.

Line-of-sight planning will support strategic-led planning and transparency by establishing clear objectives that will guide on-the-ground outcomes.

An Implementation Plan for 2017-2019 accompanies this Plan.

Regional district planning may be undertaken through partnership with stakeholders, led by the Committee. Priorities for regional district planning are highlighted in this Plan where matters cross jurisdictional boundaries.

The New England North West Regional Plan 2036 will replace the current strategic plan for the region, the New England North West Strategic Regional Land Use Plan.

A Government direction will be issued to councils so that new planning proposals or updated local planning controls are consistent with the directions and actions outlined in the Plan.

The Committee will support the preparation of local growth management strategies that translate the vision and guiding principles of this Plan into more detailed priorities for growth and change that can applied locally.


The Committee will monitor and review progress towards achieving the vision and goals for 2036 to help prioritise infrastructure delivery and influence policy settings.

An annual report will present indicators for housing, employment, communities and the environment, as well as advice to government on the delivery of short-term actions. This monitoring will be conducted in partnership with councils.

The Plan will be reviewed and adjusted every five years, or as necessary, to help realise the vision for 2036.

Local growth management strategies

Local growth management strategies will be developed by councils and endorsed by the Department prior to preparing a local environmental plan to rezone land for residential, rural residential, commercial and industrial land uses. Guidelines will be prepared to help councils develop local growth management strategies and to ensure the strategies reflect the directions and actions of this Plan.

State planning hierarchy

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Page last updated: 28/07/2022