NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Local Character

The NSW Government is committed to ensuring strategic planning recognises and enhances the local character of an area, and that communities share what they value about their area.

Character is what makes a neighbourhood distinctive and is the identity of the place. It encompasses the way a place looks and feels. It is created by a combination of land, people, built environment, history, culture and tradition, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, and it looks at how they interact to create an area's distinctive character.

The NSW Government is committed to ensuring strategic planning that balances respect for the local character of an area and the need for development. We ensure that a design-led approach is used to build on the valued characteristics of individual neighbourhoods and places.

Built form, bulk, scale and height as well as landscaping and good design all play a part in ensuring the character of an area is maintained while still allowing for new development to occur.

The department proposed changes to the standard instrument local environmental plan and exhibited an explanation of intended effect in November 2020. This will not be progressing further. However, councils can continue to provide guidance on local character through their local strategic planning statements (LSPSs) and development control plans (DCPs).

LSPSs and DCPs support local character by setting the overall context of local areas. They also provide planning controls that support the areas vision, ensuring local character is considered in all new developments.

More information

Please see the documents below for more information about local character.