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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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Urban growth area variation principles 

Urban Growth Area Variation Principles 
Policy The variation needs to be consistent with the objectives and outcomes in the North Coast Regional Plan 2036 and any relevant Section 117 Directions and State Environmental Planning Policies, and should consider the intent of any applicable local growth management strategy.
Infrastructure The variation needs to consider the use of committed and planned major transport, water and sewerage infrastructure, and have no cost to government.
The variation should only be permitted if adequate and cost-effective infrastructure can be provided to match the expected population.
Environmental and farmland protection

The variation should avoid areas:

  • of high environmental or heritage value; and
  • mapped as important farmland, unless consistent with the interim variation criteria prior to finalising the farmland mapping review.
Land use conflict
The variation must be appropriately separated from incompatible land uses, including agricultural activities, sewage treatment plants, waste facilities and productive resource lands.
Avoiding risk

The variation must avoid physically constrained land identified as:

  • flood prone;
  • bushfire-prone;
  • highly erodible;
  • having a severe slope; and
  • having acid sulfate soils.


Heritage The variation must protect and manage Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage.
Coastal area Only minor and contiguous variations to urban growth areas in the coastal area will be considered due to its environmental sensitivity and the range of land uses competing for this limited area.

Important farmland interim variation criteria

Land may be suitable for uses other than farmland if:
Agricultural capability
The land is isolated from other important farmland and is not capable of supporting sustainable agricultural production.
Land use conflict
The land use does not increase the likelihood of conflict and does not impact on current or future agricultural activities in the locality.
The delivery of infrastructure (utilities, transport, open space, communications and stormwater) required to service the land is physically and economically feasible at no cost to State and Local Government.
Environment and heritage
The proposed land uses do not have an adverse impact on areas of high environmental value, and Aboriginal or historic heritage significance.
Avoiding risk

Risks associated with physically constrained land are identified and avoided, including:

  • flood prone;
  • bushfire-prone;
  • highly erodible;
  • severe slope; and
  • acid sulfate soils.

Precinct plan guidelines

Precinct plans should contain, or be accompanied by, information relating to the following:
Vision A statement that is supported by clear strategies and policy about how to achieve the community’s vision for the future character of their area.
Context The scale, pattern and form of development will reflect climatic conditions, historical appreciation and the community’s vision for the future character of their area.
Character Present and future character is clearly defined.
Community and stakeholder values Innovative, diverse and purposeful community consultations encourage community engagement.
Land use planning Establish land use objectives that acknowledge the wider planning framework. Focusing on objectives within the precinct plan, rather than land use zones, allows an outcomes focus and flexibility in implementation.
Built form, public domain and active living Provide locality-specific opportunities and guidance to embed healthy living and best-practice design within the urban environment.
Housing diversity, density and affordability Acknowledge, discuss and provide a locality-specific response to the needs of housing diversity, density and affordability.
Environmental management and open space Understand the environmental conditions and ensure development follows the ‘avoid, minimise, offset’ hierarchy. Plan for recreational areas and detail opportunities where the environment and open space can work together to improve the wellbeing of the community and environmental values.
Infrastructure availability and upgrades Clearly establish capacity, costings and actions for water, sewer, road, community and cultural infrastructure provides clarity for investment and the coordination of assets.

Page last updated: 17/09/2019