NSW Department of Planning and Environment

A borderless region in Australia’s most geographically diverse natural environment with the nation’s capital at its heart

In 2036, more than 320,000 people live in the South East and Tablelands, enjoying varied and distinct scenic landscapes from the highlands to the coast. Visitors seek out vibrant arts and cultural experiences, as well as year-round recreation and adventure activities.

The South East and Tablelands is part of a borderless region with Canberra as the Metropolitan City at its heart. Canberra Airport is the catalyst for diverse growth opportunities for farmers and agricultural producers, who supply markets across Asia. People from across the region access the jobs and services in the nation’s capital. The integrated relationship between the ACT and the South East and Tablelands as a unified ‘Canberra region’ offers a stronger, growing economy within Australia’s most geographically diverse natural environment.

Queanbeyan, Cooma, Young, Bega, Batemans Bay, Goulburn and Moss Vale leverage advances in information technology, creating smart work opportunities that connect people physically and digitally.

Tourism and agricultural exports are expanding through the region’s strategic location and connections to global markets and metropolitan centres in Canberra, Western Sydney and the Illawarra. Canberra Airport is exporting the region’s produce to Asia and welcoming international tourists. Innovative and sustainable approaches to agriculture and aquaculture are acknowledged internationally. The region is known for its high quality clean and green products.

The Port of Eden is a global gateway and a hub for cruise ships and marine activity, drawing visitors to indulge in the world renowned cultural, wildlife and food-based experiences.

International and domestic visitors visit the Snowy Mountains and the South Coast throughout the year, staying at one of the many beaches between Batemans Bay and the Victorian border or hiking to the top of Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko. Internationally recognised food and wine offerings in Young, Murrumbateman and Bowral and eco-based tourism and cultural trails such as the Bundian Way add to the diverse mix of visitor experiences.

The region is a hub for renewable energy excellence with the Snowy Mountains Hydro- Electric Scheme, Gullen Range Wind Farm and Woodlawn Bioreactor. It is leading responses to the challenges of climate change, natural hazards and sustainable water supplies for urban use.

Communities enjoy better walking and cycling paths, and public and community transport. People have easy access to a greater range of health and education services. Neighbourhoods are healthy, safe places where people feel welcome. They provide a contemporary mix of cutting-edge water and energy efficiencies, while celebrating their distinctive character and heritage.

New homes are located in places that make the best use of infrastructure and services. The type of new housing is more diverse, and better suited to the growing and ageing population. New housing is also contributing to housing affordability and the demand for visitor accommodation.

To achieve this vision, the NSW Government has committed to collaborating with the ACT to leverage opportunities from the borderless ‘Canberra region’ and set the following regional goals:

  • A connected and prosperous economy
  • A diverse environment interconnected by biodiversity corridors
  • Healthy and connected communities
  • Environmentally sustainable housing choices

2036 Vision

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The South East and Tablelands is renowned for its diverse landscapes that include an unspoilt coastline, green hinterlands, the spectacular high country of the Australian Alps, heritage towns and glorious countryside.

With Canberra providing access to world-class hospitality and cultural institutions, the region is an amazing place to live and visit.

The South East and Tablelands Regional Plan 2036 is our blueprint for the next two decades - reflecting community and stakeholder aspirations and opportunities for balanced growth, while protecting the region’s amazing natural environment.

The Plan aims to leverage the region’s significant infrastructure assets. The Port of Eden, Canberra Airport, strategic transport links, and access to other global gateways such as the ports of Melbourne, Port Kembla and Botany and Western Sydney Airport will drive a prosperous economic future.

The region’s landscapes underpin innovative opportunities in tourism, renewable energy, aquaculture and agriculture. International flights into Canberra and cruise ships into Eden will bring more visitors to enjoy authentic natural and cultural experiences and food and wine trails.

Protecting diverse environments including wilderness areas, coastal lakes and estuaries and the Batemans Bay Marine Park is essential to the region’s long-term sustainability and prosperity.

A range of housing options, especially in areas that share a border with the ACT, will support the growing population. Local housing strategies and high-quality urban environments will promote healthy communities.

The special connection to the ACT requires a close relationship with the ACT Government to seamlessly manage cross-border servicing, infrastructure provision, transport, freight networks and housing. The ACT and NSW Memorandum of Understanding formalises ongoing collaboration between the two governments to deliver outcomes for the broader Canberra region.

We recognise and acknowledge the traditional custodians across the South East and Tablelands. They are important partners in the economic, social and environmental future of the region and we will work in greater collaboration into the future.

The South East and Tablelands Regional Plan 2036 encompasses the vision, goals and actions that will deliver greater prosperity for those who live, work and visit the region.

I look forward to working with all our stakeholders to support the region’s future.

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


The South East and Tablelands offers snow, surf and rural living with easy connections to Canberra and Sydney

The population of the region is projected to increase by 45,450 people between 2016 and 2036, mainly in places within commuting distance of Canberra and Sydney, in the strategic centres and along the coast.1

The combined population of the local government areas within an hour’s commute of the ACT, and the Territory’s population itself, will increase to more than 660,000 by 2033 – a larger population than the Gold Coast today.

The South East and Tablelands Regional Plan 2036 represents a collaborative approach that closely integrates and aligns with the strategic planning for Canberra. This collaboration can unlock the enormous potential of a ‘borderless region’ – a place that will thrive regardless of State and Territory jurisdictions.

The Port of Eden and Canberra Airport will enhance access to national and international markets. More diverse tourism opportunities in the Snowy Mountains will strengthen long-term resilience.

This region faces an exciting future – and the South East and Tablelands Regional Plan 2036 is the blueprint to deliver that future.

The Plan guides the NSW Government’s land use planning priorities and decisions over the next 20 years. It is not intended to be a step-by-step approach to all land use planning. Rather, it is an overarching framework to guide more detailed land use plans, development proposals and infrastructure funding decisions.

The Implementation Plan that accompanies this Plan includes a series of priority actions, and identifies medium- and longer-term actions to coincide with population and economic change.

The Local Government Narratives set out priorities for councils to guide further investigations and implementation.

The South East and Tablelands Regional Plan 2036 is the product of extensive consultation with councils, stakeholders and the wider community, following the release and exhibition of a draft Plan in 2016. The feedback from this consultation has been integral to this final Plan.

The South East and Tablelands Regional Plan 2036 provides the strategy necessary to deliver the vision for the region.

South East and Tablelands infrastructure investments

The NSW Government is supporting the South East and Tablelands economy and communities through the following infrastructure investments:

  • $187 million for the South East Regional Hospital at Bega;
  • 120 million for the Goulburn Hospital redevelopment;
  • $44 million to extend the breakwater wharf at the Port of Eden;
  • $25 million for safety upgrades to the Kings Highway;
  • $50 million for the Queanbeyan bypass and Ellerton Drive extension; and
  • $50 million for the redevelopment of Bowral Hospital.

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Delivering the Plan

The NSW Government’s commitment

To deliver the South East and Tablelands Regional Plan 2036, all levels of government, the private sector and the community will have to work together. The Plan needs to be incorporated into each stakeholder’s future activities.


The NSW Government has established the South East and Tablelands Delivery, Coordination and Monitoring Committee to deliver, coordinate and be accountable for achieving the vision and goals of the Plan, see the table below. This is a dedicated new body comprising representatives from the Canberra Region Joint Organisation and State agencies. It will listen to and work with stakeholders to make sure that growth is aligned with infrastructure and support growth and change in the region.

 South East and Tablelands Delivery, Coordination and Monitoring Committee
  • Aligning across Government
  • Partnering with local government
  • Listening to the community 
  • Actioning the Implementation Plan
  • 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 coordinating infrastructure in a cross-border setting, supporting tourism opportunities and protecting important agricultural and environmental land. Over time, new priorities will be identified to support growth and change in the region.

The Plan sets regional planning priorities and provides a framework for regional and local planning decisions. The NSW Government will use this Plan to advise infrastructure agencies about the timing of new developments. This will inform ongoing planning and the delivery of infrastructure, asset management and services.

The Plan sets in place line-of-sight land use planning for the region, subregions and local government areas. Line-of-sight planning will allow issues to be identified and resolved early, rather than at the development application stage.

An Implementation Plan for 2017-2019 accompanies this Plan.

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

A Government direction will be issued so that when councils prepare new planning proposals or update local planning controls, they are consistent with the vision and guiding principles of this Plan.

The Local Government Narratives provide detailed guidance for each council. The Committee will support the preparation of local land use strategies that translate the vision and guiding principles of this Plan into more detailed priorities for growth and change that can be applied at the local level.


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

An annual report will be prepared that considers indicators for housing, employment, communities and the environment, as well as advice to government on the delivery of short-term actions.

Every five years, or as necessary, the Plan will be reviewed and adjusted to make sure the vision for 2036 is realised.

State planning hierarchy

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A connected and borderless 'Canberra region'

A key component in the success of the South East and Tablelands

Canberra and the South East and Tablelands are intrinsically linked. Canberra’s transport connections, educational institutions, tertiary health services and employment will be accessed by people within NSW, while the region continues to offer a greater diversity of housing, experiences and opportunities beyond the ACT’s limits. 

The ACT and NSW Memorandum of Understanding for Regional Collaboration underpins shared jurisdictional planning in the region. Initially signed in 2011 and re-committed to in November 2016, the Memorandum renews outcomes and prioritises the service delivery focus within the broader ‘Canberra region’.  A letter of intent has also been signed by the ACT Government and Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council to improve road, cycling and walking connections and to plan for required infrastructure. 

The South East and Tablelands Regional Plan 2036 represents a new approach. It takes a cross-border approach to economic investment, infrastructure delivery, servicing provision and housing development. This will facilitate sustainable growth and optimise economic prospects. 

Accessing global markets to drive regional economic development

Canberra Airport’s international passenger and freight terminal is a tourism and export gateway, specifically in terms of movements from Singapore and New Zealand. Singapore provides access to the fast-growing Asian markets, particularly China. New Zealand provides an opportunity to attract leisure, government, business and education visitation. 

The region offers a diverse and unique tourism mix across both jurisdictions. Visitors can enjoy adventure and recreational activities of skiing and surfing, and many different food and wine, cultural and nature-based experiences in places like the Snowy Mountains, the South Coast, or iconic rural hinterlands. Canberra’s capital city status gives access to world-class cultural and heritage institutions, such as the National Gallery of Australia.

Increasing numbers of domestic and international tourists will enable the region to be one of NSW’s premier year-round destinations. This is helped by the $44 million investment to extend the breakwater wharf at the Port of Eden to attract larger cruise ships to the region’s south. 

Canberra Airport will give producers access to growing Asian markets through various trade agreements. The region’s high quality, niche, clean and green produce will underpin future growth. For example, live oysters from the South Coast are exported to Asia within 30 hours of harvest. Collaborative approaches and industry cooperatives will allow smaller producers to access larger export markets. To solidify these benefits, important agricultural land will be identified and opportunities for value-added activities such as boutique foods and beverages will be promoted.

Connecting with Canberra for jobs and services

Canberra’s growth will provide a wider range of service and job opportunities in public administration, professional services and education. Efficient travel to and from the ACT is therefore critical. 

To meet this challenge, the NSW and ACT Governments will continue to collaborate to address legal and contractual barriers for public transport, including inconsistencies in fares, services and timetables. Other measures include park and ride facilities at key junctions and integrating community transport services into the overall transport system.

Further investment in the road network will improve access to the ACT’s jobs and services. 

Existing projects include upgrades to the Barton Highway, linking the ACT and Southern Tablelands with Western NSW, and the Kings Highway between Queanbeyan and Batemans Bay. 

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Leveraging an interconnected housing market

The type of housing available within an hour of Canberra is driven by the ACT market, particularly in Queanbeyan-Palerang and Yass Valley local government areas, where people seek more affordable housing or larger blocks. Similarly, on the South Coast, many ACT residents own or rent holiday homes, or move there once retired. 

While each jurisdiction plans for its own population growth and accompanying infrastructure and service delivery, the unique NSW-ACT cross-border relationship requires both jurisdictions to plan for a greater population than that within their own boundaries.

Rather than isolated land releases, a more strategic approach to housing will make the best use of existing infrastructure and maximise investment in planned infrastructure.

A cross-border land and housing monitor will better track and forecast housing land releases so that all levels of government have a better understanding of the infrastructure and service implications arising from growth, particularly close to the ACT.

ACT Planning Strategy

The ACT Planning Strategy (2012) sets Canberra’s economic, social and environmental aspirations. The Strategy focuses on:

  • intensifying urban development around Canberra’s existing centres and corridors, including a target to deliver 50 per cent of new housing through urban intensification;
  • expanding greenfield sites around Gungahlin and Molonglo Valley; and
  • improving transport connections for the 20,000 people travelling into Canberra from NSW each day.

The Strategy acknowledges that Canberra’s success depends on its relationship to surrounding areas. It acknowledges the importance of regional collaboration on biodiversity, transport and economic development. A five-year review of the Strategy will commence in 2017.

Page last updated: 28/07/2022