NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Neighbourhood Centres

In July 2020, the NSW Government announced the NSW Planning Reform Action Plan to deliver long term structural reform of the planning system and unlock the productivity of NSW. This includes reorientate the planning system around people, places, public spaces, the environment and communities, ensuring integration with infrastructure provision.

Neighbourhood Centres program explained

Neighbourhood and local centres provide for a range of retail, business, entertainment and community uses for the people who live, work or visit the area. Your neighbourhood centre is where you find your local café, barber shop or dentist, a place for local communities to meet and take care of their daily needs.

The Neighbourhood Centres program, an initiative under the NSW Planning Reforms, provides guidance to businesses, communities and councils about how neighbourhood centres can be activated and improved using exempt and complying development planning pathways.

The NSW Government’s State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) can be used to set up new businesses or help existing businesses to change their use.

Feedback and updates

Neighbourhood centres has been identified as one of four key areas to encourage investment and job-generating development through strengthening complying development.

We exhibited an Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) on ‘Building Business Back Better’ proposing complying development policy reform to create stronger neighbourhood centres. Please visit the planning portal for more information.

View the EIE

What’s the latest?

The department has developed a suite of tools to provide more information on exempt and complying development.

The following animations provide guidance for hairdressers, barber shops and beauty salons, retail shops or offices, cafes and restaurants.

As different businesses have different needs, we will publish more animations and fact sheets for other business types in the coming month.

Note: The videos below will play in order, one after another, automatically. If you wish to play the next video, click on the 'playlist' icon located on the top right hand corner of the video.


More information

If you want to understand more about the exempt and complying development pathways in your neighbourhood, you can read the following fact sheets:

If you have any questions, please email the project team or give our Codes Hotline a call on 13 17 88.

Banner image: Cafes and shopfronts along the Five Ways, Paddington. Photo credit: Destination NSW.

Page last updated: 15/02/2023