NSW Public Spaces Charter
What is the NSW Public Spaces Charter?
The NSW Public Spaces Charter (PDF, 3.34 MB) has been developed to support the planning, design, management and activation of public spaces in NSW. It identifies 10 principles for quality public space, developed through evidence-based research and discussions with public space experts and community members.
We have developed a NSW Public Spaces Charter Draft Practitioner's Guide to support users of the Charter. The Practitioner's Guide gives more information and ideas on how to apply the 10 Charter principles when planning, designing, managing and activating public space.
While we have developed the Charter for use by anyone involved in the planning, design, delivery or management of public space, we encourage organisations and practitioners to become signatories to it. In becoming a signatory to the NSW Public Spaces Charter, an organisation is showing a commitment to embed the 10 principles when they plan for, design, manage or activate public spaces.
On this page:
NSW Public Spaces Charter Principles
Watch the video playlist or explore the 10 principles below.
10 principles for public space in NSW
The Charter identifies 10 principles for quality public space, to support all those who advocate on behalf of, provide advice on, make decisions about, or plan, design, manage and activate public spaces in NSW.
Principle 1: Open and welcoming
Everyone can access public space and feel welcome, respected and included.
Principle 2: Community focused
Public space brings people together and builds strong, connected and resilient communities.
Principle 3: Culture and creativity
Public space provides a platform for culture and creative expression that makes places more colourful, animated and thought-provoking.
Principle 4: Local character and identity
Public space reflects who we are and our diverse stories and histories.
Principle 5: Green and resilient
Public space connects us to nature, enhances biodiversity and builds climate resilience into communities.
Principle 6: Healthy and active
Public space allows everyone to participate in activities that strengthen our health and wellbeing.
Principle 7: Local business and economies
Public space supports a dynamic economic life and vibrant urban and town centres.
Principle 8: Safe and secure
Everyone feels safe to access and use public space at all times of the day.
Principle 9: Designed for place
Public space is flexible and responds to its environment to meet the needs of its community.
Principle 10: Well-managed
Well-managed and maintained public space functions better and invites people to use and care for it.
The Charter is also built on the following core values that resonate strongly across all the principles. These values should always be considered when applying the principles.
Connection to Country
All public space in NSW is on Country, which is at the core of every Aboriginal person’s identity and sense of belonging. It is the place from which Aboriginal languages and cultures are derived, which determine families, kinship and communities. Aboriginal peoples are the Traditional Custodians of all public space in New South Wales.
Acknowledging and valuing Aboriginal peoples and cultural knowledge when public space is planned, managed and delivered can promote and strengthen connection to Country and create healing for both Aboriginal communities and non-Aboriginal peoples too
Watch the NSW Public Spaces Charter: Connecting with Country video.
Equity and inclusion
Public space is a community asset that should support a society in which everyone can participate, prosper, and reach their potential. Inclusion in public spaces and in the processes to plan, design, manage and activate them is central to creating equitable public spaces and ensuring all people can access the benefits they provide.
Engaging the community as active participants in decision-making processes when planning, designing, managing and activating public space will help ensure that it reflects their values, needs and aspirations. Participatory processes, collaboration and co-design in public space projects help build trust, which then increases people’s use of and attachment to the space. Ensuring that vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities are engaged in these processes leads to more welcoming and inclusive public space.
Becoming a signatory
We invite all NSW Government agencies, local government, industry and other organisations across NSW involved in planning, designing, managing and activating public spaces to sign up to the Charter. Join us in committing to these principles for quality public space. You can view our current Charter signatories.
Signatories to the Charter will have access to a community of practice and support from the department to apply the Charter, as well as promotional and data-sharing opportunities. Signatories will seek to embed the Charter principles in their approach and complete Charter Check-in to track annual progress. The Charter Check-in will provide a better understanding of the following:
- how organisations apply the Charter principles in public space projects
- how we can support signatories
- a sector-wide snapshot of the Charter’s implementation.
Over 40 organisations, including state agencies, councils, non-government organisations and community groups, have become signatories.
Signatory application process
The signatory application process and reporting requirements are summarised below:
- Your organisation completes the NSW Public Spaces Charter signatory Charter application form.
- We review your application and determine your organisation’s signatory type.
- Your organisation is notified of the outcome and sent a link to the Charter Check-in.
- Your organisation completes the Charter Check-in within 1 month of becoming a signatory.
- After your Check-in is received, your organisation is sent a signatory partner pack.
- Your organisation will be invited to a Community of Practice
- From 2023, your organisation will complete a short annual Charter Check-in every May.
Please refer to the frequently asked questions below for more information.
If you want to become a signatory, we invite you to complete the application.
For more information about consultation on the NSW Public Spaces Charter see below.
NSW Public Spaces Charter Engagement Report
The Charter reflects and responds to consultation with diverse stakeholders including state agencies, councils, non-government organisations, community, environmental and recreational groups, as well as targeted engagement with Aboriginal peoples, including Elders, Knowledge Holders, representatives from Local Aboriginal Land Councils, councils, Aboriginal community organisations and professionals from the public and private sector. The NSW Public Spaces Charter Engagement Report (PDF, 4.86 MB) summarises the key themes that emerged from this consultation.
The NSW Public Spaces Charter is also available in Arabic, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese.
For more information about the NSW Public Spaces Charter, including how to become a signatory, visit our Frequently asked questions or email PublicSpace@planning.nsw.gov.au.
Please note that since the 1 April 2022 the Public Spaces branch from the Department of Planning and Environment was transitioned to TfNSW and renamed Cities Revitalisation and Place. The ‘Contact us’ mailboxes PublicSpace@planning.nsw.gov.au and SaferCities@dpie.nsw.gov.au are managed by the Cities Revitalisation and Place team.