A NSW Government website

The Festival of Place

NSW Public Spaces Charter

What is the NSW Public Spaces Charter?

The NSW Public Spaces Charter (PDF 7.3MB) 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.

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 4.9MB) summarises the key themes that emerged from this consultation.

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.

NSW Public Spaces Charter Principles

Watch the video playlist or explore the 10 principles starting with Open and welcoming.

Become a signatory and find out more

We are inviting all NSW Government agencies, local government, industry and other organisations across NSW to sign up to the Charter and 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 be asked to identify goals for how they would like to embed the Charter principles in their practice and complete a short baseline report to track bi-annual progress. The reports will provide the department with a better understanding of:

  • how organisations are progressing with the implementation of the Charter
  • how the department can provide further support to signatories
  • a sector-wide snapshot of the Charter’s implementation.

The signatory application process and reporting requirements are summarised below:

  1. Your organisation completes the NSW Public Spaces Charter signatory Charter application form.
  2. We review your application in line with the eligibility criteria.
  3. Your organisation is notified of the outcome and if eligible is sent a link to the baseline report.
  4. Your organisation completes the baseline report within 1 month. of becoming a signatory.
  5. After your report is received, your organisation is sent a signatory partner pack after we receive your baseline report.
  6. From 2023, your organisation completes a biannual report every March and September.

For more information, please refer to the frequently asked questions below.

If you’re interested in becoming a signatory, we invite you to complete the application. Our team will be in touch shortly to advise the next steps.

Become a signatory

NSW Public Spaces Charter Draft Practitioner's Guide

We have developed a practitioner's guide to support signatories. It gives more information and ideas on how to apply the 10 Charter principles when planning, designing, managing and activating public space.

NSW Public Spaces Charter Draft Practitioner’s Guide (PDF 8.9MB)

Public consultation on the draft Practitioner’s Guide closed on Friday 9 September 2022. Feedback is currently being reviewed and the final Practitioner’s Guide will be released in early 2023.

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.

1. Open and welcoming

Everyone can access public space and feel welcome, respected and included.

Open-and-Welcoming-287x239px.jpg

2. Community focused

Public space brings people together and builds strong, connected and resilient communities.

Community-focused-287x239px.jpg

3. Culture and creativity

Public space provides a platform for culture and creative expression that makes places more colourful, animated and thought-provoking.

Culture-and-creativity-287x239px.jpg

4. Local character and identity

Public space reflects who we are and our diverse stories and histories.

Local-character-and-identity-287x239px.jpg

5. Green and resilient

Public space connects us to nature, enhances biodiversity and builds climate resilience into communities.

Green-and-resilient-287x239px.jpg

6. Healthy and active

Public space allows everyone to participate in activities that strengthen our health and wellbeing.

Healthy-and-active-287x239px.jpg

7. Local business and economies

Public space supports a dynamic economic life and vibrant urban and town centres.

Local-business-and-economies-287x239px.jpg

8. Safe and secure

Everyone feels safe to access and use public space at all times of the day.

Safe-and-secure-287x239px.jpg

9. Designed for place

Public space is flexible and responds to its environment to meet the needs of its community.

designed-for-place-287x239px.jpg

10. Well-managed

Well-managed and maintained public space functions better and invites people to use and care for it.

Well-managed-287x239px.jpg

The values

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.

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.

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.

For more information

View the Frequently asked questions for more information about the NSW Public Spaces Charter including eligibility criteria to becoming a signatory.

If you would like more information about the NSW Public Spaces Charter or to understand more about becoming a signatory, you can email the department at PublicSpace@planning.nsw.gov.au.

Disclaimer

The NSW Government acknowledges the goodwill of those participants signing up to the Charter, however the NSW Government reserves the right to remove or exclude participants from involvement in the Charter at any time. The NSW Government does not have any responsibility for ensuring that participants uphold the principles and outcomes of the Charter, or the manner in which participants choose to deliver upon these principles and outcomes. To the fullest extent permitted by law, the NSW Government disclaims any liability that may arise out of a participant signing or delivering upon the principles and outcomes in the Charter.