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People, centres, housing and community

Central West and Orana Regional Plan 2041

The Central West and Orana region needs an adequate supply of affordable, well-designed housing in the places where people want to live. 

While we expect most new housing growth to be in existing urban areas, the regional plan sets out several considerations that are specific to Central West and Orana.

Planning for the region’s Aboriginal communities

Aboriginal people have lived in the Central West and Orana Region for at least 60,000 years. It is home to the lands of the Wiradjuri, Wongaibon, Wailwan (also known as Weilwan and Wayilwan), Gamilaroi (also known as Gamilaraay and Kamilaroi), Ngiyampaa, Dharug and Gundungurra countries.

The regional plan recognises that the knowledge of Aboriginal people – the oldest living culture on Earth – is yet to be integrated into land use planning and decision-making.

In supporting stronger relationships between Local Aboriginal Land Councils, State agencies and councils, the regional plan can help to realise the economic potential of Aboriginal land holdings. It will also give the broader community a better understanding of Aboriginal places, culture and heritage.

This includes incorporating local Aboriginal knowledge, culture and traditions into centres, places and development planning. We see a good example of this at the Wiradjuri Dreaming Centre in Forbes.

Our overall planning for new housing in the region also considers a supply of housing that reflects the needs of Aboriginal people. Ongoing collaboration with the land councils, native title holders and both Commonwealth and State agencies will be essential.

Read objective 9 (PDF, 23.2 MB)objective 14 (PDF, 23.2 MB) and objective 23 (PDF, 23.2 MB) of the regional plan to find out more.

Regional cities

Dubbo services a broader catchment or more than 120,000 people. It offers education, public administration, professional and retail services.

It attracts many visitors to places like Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Western Plains Cultural Centre, Old Dubbo Gaol and the Wiradjuri Tourism Centre. 

The regional plan forecasts further residential development in Dubbo’s existing urban area and new development in Dubbo’s north west, south west and south east.

There will also be a focus on development in the Dubbo CBD, and the potential re-use of heritage buildings. 

Orange services a broad population catchment across Orange, Blayney and Cabonne LGAs. 

The regional plan highlights the city’s successful agribusiness, wine and food industry, mining, healthcare (including the Orange Health and Innovation Precinct), education and public administration offerings. The economy forms part of regional and interstate networks, particularly in extractive resources, agribusiness, logistics and tourism. 

Orange’s identity as a visitor destination is intrinsically linked to its lovely natural setting and the rich blend of historic buildings. It is easy to access and offers a quality lifestyle.

Orange offers the potential for us to plan for a greater diversity of housing that can help contribute to housing affordability. A mix of development in existing suburbs and in new areas will encompass design quality principles.

Bathurst services a catchment of 146,000 people and sits on the banks of the Macquarie River/Wambuul, with the backdrop of Mount Panorama/Wahluu.

It is shaped around long-standing education and training assets, including Charles Sturt University. Other key industries are tourism, which benefits from the annual Bathurst 1000 and the city’s rich European heritage and surrounding heritage towns and villages.

The regional plan highlights the potential to plan for a diversity of housing, including the possible re-use of heritage buildings. This could then help to renew the city centre while also enhancing heritage areas.

New residential development is planned in Eglinton and Laffing Waters. There are opportunities for new housing north of Eleven Mile Drive, west of Sawpit Creek and east of Perthville.

Centres and towns

We’re seeing changes across NSW in how people work and shop and where they live. This may see changes not just in the regional cities, but in the region’s many strategic centres and smaller towns and villages.

These places form part of the region’s character. They are places where people can easily access local shops and services, or get together with friends. Places like Mudgee, Lithgow, Wellington and Coonabarabran sit within spectacular landscapes. Others, like Gilgandra, Parkes and Forbes, offer unique rural settings.

Some of these smaller places may not see a lot of change, but others may be subject to investment, development and new residents. The regional plan recognises that a greater diversity in the type of housing, industries and jobs on offer will bring more opportunities to local communities.

Read objective 12 (PDF, 23.2 MB) of the regional plan to find out more.

The right housing in the right location

We can make better use of existing infrastructure by planning for new housing in the region’s centres. This requires planning to identify the right areas for intensification and renewal.

In some of the region’s urban centres, new housing has been developed on city outskirts, without the right kind of infrastructure in place. This has negative environmental impacts and conflicts with surrounding rural and resource lands. 

We also need to consider the right locations for rural-residential housing. This offers a unique lifestyle for residents and is part of the region’s unique fabric. However, it must be planned in a way that both protects resources like groundwater, and the essential agricultural uses that drive the region’s economy. 

We also need to be sure that new rural living avoids high environmental value land and land identified as at risk of natural hazards. Rural residential also can lead to the fragmentation of rural and/or agricultural land. This affects the value of land and the ability of farming enterprises to amalgamate. Rural residential development also typically requires high levels of service for few residents.

The regional plan acknowledges the challenge in conserving the historic town centres while also considering higher density housing. This means that new residents can live in an area with existing services and infrastructure. It will also bring new activity into central areas. 

This includes re-using and repurposing sites that were once used for a function that is no longer needed, or where buildings have been abandoned or destroyed.

Read objective 13 (PDF, 23.2 MB) and objective 15 (PDF, 23.2 MB) of the regional plan to find out more.

Housing affordability and availability

Between 2017 and 2020 average house prices in the region grew by 10%, above the NSW average of 6%. In the Mid-Western Regional and Orange LGAs, prices rose by 23 and 22% respectively. Rents are also increasing – rising 9% over the period compared to a reduction of 1% for NSW.

These affordability issues combine several other elements:

  • the high proportion of older people – those over 65 will make up a quarter of the region’s population by 2041
  • rapid growth of tourism accommodation since 2016
  • the need to provide places for short-term, seasonal or temporary workers to live.

The regional plan sets out strategies to plan for a range of housing. This includes smaller housing that could assist with affordability, or may allow older people to downgrade to a more manageable property while staying in an area they know.

We also need to consider how we can respond to homelessness and the general lack of social housing that matches with the types of households that need it. Caravan parks, manufactured homes (either individually or as estates) and tiny homes should be considered as part of the solution.

Read objective 14 (PDF, 23.2 MB) of the regional plan to find out more.

Temporary workers

Over the next 5 years, the region has more than $12.6 billion of planned investment in major capital projects. This will support construction-related jobs and flow-on employment benefits elsewhere in the region.

Inland Rail – as one example – will require around 2,000 employees at the peak of the construction process. This means temporary workers will need to be able to stay in places like Narromine, Gilgandra and Baradine.

To help address this need, the regional plan sets out strategies to ensure that large-scale projects consider the influx of temporary workers – and what this influx means in terms of places for people to live and the impacts on cities, towns and villages.