Respecting local character

Smart places preserve and enhance local character, function and amenity

Local character is a combination of land, people, built environment, history, culture and tradition, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Considering the local character of a place means looking at how people and places currently interact to create an area’s distinctive character and consulting widely with customers to understand their sense of place. It also means supporting the community’s vision for the place as documented in local strategic planning statements and community strategic plans and balancing place-based aspects such as recreation, business and social connection with the movement of people and freight.

What this principle will achieve

  • The history and culture of a place is embraced, including recognition of traditional owners and First Nations culture.
  • The health of the natural and built environment is maintained or improved.
  • The main functions of a place are identified, protected and, where possible, enhanced, including movement of people and freight, social connection, recreation, economic activity and education.
  • Local diversity is celebrated and helps define smart places to ensure they are equitable, accessible and welcoming for all.
  • Community pride and empowerment helps make places more vibrant and connected, improves social cohesion and reduces social isolation.
  • People feel safer and comfortable to participate more fully in social and economic activities at all times of day.

How to follow this principle

Smart places should protect and enhance people’s experience of a place and the efficiency with which it functions. In the case of public spaces, this includes a commitment to uphold the NSW Public Spaces Charter. The use of technology and infrastructure should integrate with and complement the surrounding environment, seeking to protect visual amenity and incorporating elements of a place’s local character and function into design.

Opportunities should be sought to make First Nations history and culture a more visible part of NSW’s built and natural environment and improve visitor understanding of it. First Nations communities should determine what is appropriate to be shared publicly.


Resources to support organisations in implementing this principle: