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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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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 recognises and enhances the local character of an area, and that communities share what they value about their area to inform planning and decision making.


Key strategies to ensure that the places we plan today, become the much–loved places of the future include:

  • Adopting a place-based, design-led approach which builds on the valued characteristics of existing neighbourhoods and places;
  • Recognising, and championing the important role communities play in defining existing character and shaping a desired future character for their local area; and
  • Ensuring the right tools are available in the planning system to enable that shared visions for the future be effectively realised.

The Department has developed tools to help recognise, enhance and celebrate local character.


A Glossary of Terms and Community Factsheet is also available to supplement the package.

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Local Character and Place Guideline

The Department has prepared an interim Guideline to provide guidance with integrating local character into the planning system. Read More
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Discussion Paper Local Character Overlay

The Department has prepared a Discussion Paper to seek feedback on potentially introducing an optional local character overlay with the standard instrument local environmental plan.

Read more about the discussion paper
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Local character and place collection

The Collection is a combination of thought pieces from local character practitioners, learnings and case studies about local character and place.

Access the Local Character and Place Collection
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Local character lecture series and symposium

The Department is hosted thought leadership events on local character throughout 2018.

Read more about the lecture series and symposium
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Local character planning circular

The Circular describes what local character is and provide tools to incorporate local character into strategic planning.

See more about the local character planning circular