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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
  • Ensuring the right tools are available in the planning system to enable that shared visions for the future be effectively realised.


What’s happening now?

The department has developed a local character overlay and draft local character clause that will allow councils to insert a reference to local character in their LEP via a Local Character Statement and map.


To find out more, visit our Local character overlay webpage.


Local Character and Place Guideline

The department prepared an interim Guideline to provide guidance with integrating local character into the planning system.

Local character guideline and consultation paper tile 430x278

Local character overlay

The department has developed a draft local character clause and overlay.

Secret pathways, Sydney.

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.

Cafe and restaurants at Five Ways, Paddington. Photo by Destination NSW

Local character lecture series and symposium

The department hosted thought leadership events on local character throughout 2018.

Local character series and symposium tile 430x278

Local character planning circular

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

Local character planning circular flip tile 430x278