Proposed changes to planning rules

    What changes are proposed for the current planning rules at Charlestown?

    Council is proposing amendments to the planning rules to support the growth of Charlestown as a vibrant regional centre.  

    The Charlestown Planning Proposal outlines changes proposed to the Lake Macquarie Local Environmental Plan 2014. 

    They are:

    • Extending the Charlestown Area Plan Boundary
    • Introducing an R4 High Density Residential Zone
    • Applying consistent zones within each street block
    • Consolidating building heights
    • Introducing a development incentive clause
    • Amending ground floor use requirements in the B4 Mixed Use Zones.

    These changes will be supported by the revised Charlestown Town Centre Area Plan. Tracked changes within the area plan document show the proposed alterations to the existing plan.

    See the FAQS below for more detail.

    Additional information about the proposed changes can be found in the 14 June 2022 Council report.

    Where do the proposed changes apply?

    Changes will apply to the Charlestown strategic economic centre, as shown below.

    A small proposed change to the Charlestown Town Centre Area Plan boundary is also shown.

    The changes propose to include properties at:

    • 32 Ridley Street, 1–25 Milson Street, and 2–4 Smart Street. 

    This change will reduce conflict associated with different planning controls applying mid-block. These properties are within a walkable distance of the commercial centre and, with appropriate development controls, can support the vision for Charlestown.

    • 18–20 Mulbinga Street, 60-64 Dickinson Street, and 13–15 James Street. 

    The Charlestown Multi-Purpose Centre, other community buildings and parkland are located to the rear of these properties. These properties are within a walkable distance to the commercial centre and could facilitate increased density close to community facilities and overlooking the green space.

    Click on image below to view boundary changes. 

    What is a land use zone?

    A land use zone is a system used to classify parcels of land. Each land use zone establishes the land uses that are allowed (with or without development consent) or prohibited in a particular location.

    The main land use zones found in the Charlestown town centre include:

    • B3 Commercial Core - the focus of this zone is to support shops and office buildings with some apartment housing.
    • B4 Mixed Use - the focus of this zone is to encourage a diversity of shops, businesses, services and apartments.
    • R3 Medium Density Residential - the focus of this zone is to provide a range of housing types which fall between a typical suburban house and large multi-storey apartment buildings.  This includes villas, town houses and low rise apartment buildings.
    • R4 High Density Residential - the focus of this zone is to encourage more housing in the form of apartment buildings.

    What are the proposed changes to the Local Environmental Plan?

    Changes include the following:

    • Introduction of a high-density residential zone (R4). 

    The Lake Macquarie Housing Strategy identifies the introduction of an R4 High Density Residential zone as one way to better support housing supply and diversity. The Charlestown strategic economic centre is a suitable place to implement such a zone because the desired building heights and forms are consistent with the objectives and uses of a high-density residential zone. The proposed R4 zone can be seen below.

    • Applying consistent zones within each street block

    Within the Charlestown strategic economic centre, some sites have split land use zones, and many directly adjoining sites have different land use zones. This can act as a disincentive to new development because it can:

    • discourage lot consolidation and redevelopment
    • add unnecessary complexity to designing and assessing development on sites that have different zone objectives and development controls. 

    To reduce complexity and support redevelopment opportunities, changes to the LMLEP 2014 are proposed to make land use zones consistent within each street block.

    Click the image below for a snapshot of these proposed changes.

    • Consolidating building heights

    Charlestown economic centre has a wide range of building heights from 10m (approximately two to three storeys) up to 53m (approximately 15 to 16 storeys). Some directly adjoining sites have significant height variation. For example, the sites bounded by Frederick Street, Pacific Highway, Smart Street and Pearson Street have four different building height controls.

    Significant building height variations on adjoining sites may discourage lot consolidation and redevelopment. Different building heights adds complexity to each stage of the development process from undertaking feasibility analysis, site planning, building design and assessment of a development application.

    Therefore, it is proposed to change building heights in certain areas of Charlestown to minimise height variations within each street block. Some variation in building heights within a street block will still occur due to particular site characteristics. 

    The image below links to a 3D depiction of the proposed height changes and detailed description of the proposed height changes.

    What is the purpose of a Development Incentive Clause?

    A development incentive clause in the LMLEP 2014 is proposed for parts of the Charlestown strategic economic centre to encourage:

    • consolidation of lots to a size and width that supports quality development that includes deep soil landscape zones. The clause will allow additional building height where lots meet a minimum size and street frontage width. 
    • redevelopment to incorporate a key pedestrian link from Pearson Street Mall to Charlestown Road. 

    A number of NSW council local environmental plans contain development incentive clauses to encourage particular design and/or community infrastructure outcomes. 

    The proposed incentive clause will apply to the areas labelled ‘Area 1’ and ‘Area 2’ on the proposed building heights map, shown below. 

    Click the image to view map. 

    What changes are proposed for ground floor use requirements in the B4 Mixed Use Zones?

    Clause 7.10 ‘Residential development in certain business zones’ of the LMLEP 2014 requires new development in business zones to have commercial or medical uses on the ground floor.  

    The LMDCP 2014 states that all buildings in the B4 Mixed Use zone need a ground floor commercial space of at least 30m2.

    Concerns have been identified with this requirement because it can be difficult to find tenants for these spaces due to:

    • the small size of the provided commercial space limiting the type of business that can use it
    • businesses that rely on passing trade not being interested in these spaces because sloping land can result in commercial space that is not directly visible or accessible 
    • it not being feasible to develop larger commercial floor areas outside of the commercial core and demand for commercial floor space in the B4 Mixed Use zone not being sufficient to support dispersed new businesses. 

    The large B4 Mixed Use zone area within the Charlestown strategic economic centre provides good flexibility for the market to respond to changing business and residential needs. However, requiring all new buildings to have a ground floor commercial or medical use may result in vacant ground floor space and impact on achieving the desired vision for Charlestown to be a vibrant economic centre. 

    Rather than requiring ground floor commercial or medical uses on every site, a more tailored approach is proposed by identifying locations where active frontages are needed to support safe and vibrant pedestrian links, and where a concentration of businesses is encouraged. The areas proposed to require ground floor commercial or medical use and an active frontage are shown in Attachment 1.

    An active frontage is where the ground floor of a building includes uses, such as a shop or café that allows people inside the building to see and interact with people on the street and vice versa. Active frontages help make the street a more pleasant and safe walking environment and can help the economic viability of businesses.

    The revised Charlestown Town Centre Area Plan will support these changes by including design guidance so that all new buildings contribute to an interesting and safe pedestrian environment. These details are included in Attachment 2.

    What does the area plan propose for public space?

    The potential for a new public square in the heart of Charlestown is identified in the revised Charlestown Town Centre Area Plan. 

    Although this area plan amendment would enable future development of a public square from a planning perspective, further long-term investigations into design, costs and funding would be needed.

    Currently there is no urban public space in Charlestown on the eastern side of the Pacific Highway. There is potential for a new public square to sit adjacent to Charlestown library and leverage existing Council assets to create a vibrant, accessible community space. 

    Potential funding opportunities include the redevelopment of the Smith Street car park and library site to accommodate the proposed public square, library, commercial and residential floor space together with a new public car park. Again, long-term investigations are needed to establish feasibility of the public space.

    What is being done to establish mine grouting solutions at Charlestown?

    Council will continue to advocate state government to include Charlestown within a mine grouting fund area. 

    Development uncertainty resulting from historic mine workings beneath Charlestown creates a significant barrier to the envisioned growth of Charlestown. 

    The existing Newcastle Mine Grouting Fund provides a useful example of how such uncertainty can be reduced. In 2015, the NSW State government set up the fund to give developers and investors financial certainty about the cost of underground mine remediation. The fund acts like an insurance policy that applies after the cost of grouting exceeds a certain threshold. This reduces uncertainty and risk associated with financing and building in a mine subsidence zone and encourages new multi-storey housing and commercial development. 

    Commencement of a Charlestown Mine Grouting Fund (or extension of the Newcastle Mine Grouting Fund) would reduce uncertainty created by mine subsidence and give developers confidence to take up redevelopment opportunities in Charlestown. This would support the growth of Charlestown as envisaged in the State government’s Hunter Regional Plan and Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, and the Lake Macquarie Local Strategic Planning Statement.

    What is Council doing about walking and cycling?

    Council has previously adopted the Charlestown Transport Management Plan. The plan identifies improvements for a range of transport modes such as walking and cycling, ride-share and public transport to support more people in Charlestown. Car parking also plays an important role in supporting the movement of people and goods to and within Charlestown.

    Several new pedestrian crossings and priority locations for the construction of footpaths are identified in the plan. Council will also apply to Transport for NSW to extend the current High Pedestrian Activity Area to provide safer environments with areas of high pedestrian movements – particularly around Smith Street.

    Key cycling routes, focusing on north-east and south-east connections to the Fernleigh Track via Kahibah and Whitebridge are identified in the plan. Feasibility testing of these routes is being undertaken prior to detailed design commencing. 

Proposed changes to parking

    Why are changes proposed for parking in Charlestown?

    Council adopted the Charlestown Transport Management Plan (TMP) on 9 February 2021.

    The plan recommended various actions to improve customer experiences associated with traveling to and within Charlestown, whether by bus, taxi / ride share, walking, cycling or private vehicle.

    One of the key actions in the TMP was to simplify parking restrictions by moving to an area-based approach.

    The new parking zones proposed can be viewed below. Distinct one-hour and two-hour parking zones will be created, with two 15-minute parking zones allocated at key high turnover locations. 

    Click the image below to view map.

    When would future changes to parking be implemented?

    Should the proposed parking changes be approved by the traffic committee, staff expect that installation of new signs and the removal of existing signs will be completed before the end of 2023.  

    Nearby residents and centre management will be notified directly with future updates and timelines for implementation.

    During implementation, a grace period will be established by Council to give the community time to adjust to the new parking zones.

    Once the new parking zones are in place, Council will monitor any impacts on the streets surrounding Charlestown Square to manage changing demands for parking. 

    Will surrounding residents be provided with parking permits?

    Should the proposed parking changes be approved, parking permits will not be issued to surrounding residents who have access to their own private driveway and/or garage.

    Where can I park in Charlestown?


    Spaces available            

    Time Restrictions


    Tallara Street




    Smith Street


    2 Hours


    Charlestown Square


    (700 for staff)


    First 3 hours free


    Staff $4

    Hilltop Plaza



    First 90 minutes free

    $7 per day

    On-street parking

    Between and including Milson Street in the east and Griffiths Street in the west and between Ida Street in the north and Charles Street in the south.



    Mix of timed and untimed




    What about building more car parking?

    Car parking is very expensive and takes up large amounts of land that could otherwise be used for housing, businesses, public spaces and other productive uses.  

    Previous estimates to design and construct a multi-deck car park at the existing Tallara Street car park in Charlestown were around $35,000 for each additional space. To double the capacity of the existing car park to 592 spaces would cost at least $10 million (and result in significant disruption to parking during construction).  

    By first implementing car parking management and technology measures we can make better use of existing resources and monitor parking demand. This data can be used to support a business case to build more car parking where and when it is actually needed.

    How has the community been consulted?

    Council sought community feedback on shaping the future of Charlestown and Gateshead between 17 November 2020 and 15 January 2021. We asked the community to comment on the places they love most within these centres, ideas for changes or places that feel unsafe or unpleasant. Feedback was used to inform the Charlestown Area Plan amendments. 

    The Charlestown Transport Management Plan (TMP) was placed on public exhibition for community feedback in 2020 and was adopted by Council in 2021. The parking changes proposed based on the recommendations within the adopted TMP.

How to make a submission

    How can I make a submission?

    Any person may make a written submission to Council about the proposal. Submissions must be in writing and can be made by:

    • Completing the online form or uploading a letter to or
    • Sending an email to: [email protected]
    • Mail to: Integrated Planning, Box 1906, Hunter Region Mail Centre, NSW 2310. 

    Printed copies of the draft area plan and planning proposal will be made available at Charlestown Library.

    Submissions close 3 April 2023.

    I've made a submission - what happens next?

    Feedback may result in further changes being made to the planning proposal prior to a report being prepared for Council.

    You will be notified again, prior to Council considering the matter, which will include a link to the Council report containing a summary of submissions and how feedback was considered. It is expected the proposal will be reported back to Council seeking adoption in early 2023.

    What should I put in a submission?

    Your submission can be as concise or as long as you wish:

    Ideally, you will express your level of support for the proposal and provide detailed and specific feedback. The feedback will be reviewed by staff and later presented to Council to make an informed decision.

    Should multiple submissions be received from a single resident regarding this project, the feedback will be reviewed by staff and counted as one submission when reporting back to Council.

    Any submission received by Council will be publicly available on Council’s website.  Submissions may also be accessed under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.  Council may reproduce submissions in Council reports or in Court proceedings.

    If you have made a reportable political donation or gift in the last two years your submission must be accompanied by a "Disclosure Statement of Political Donations and Gifts where Council is Approval Authority - Submitters" Form.  For more information on reportable political donations or gifts, or to download a copy of this form go to and search for "Political Donations Submitters".  Please note failure to complete a statement, if a Political Donation/Gift has been made, is an offence under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

    Who can I talk to if I have a question?

    If you have an enquiry relating to this project, please email [email protected] or phone 4921 0333. Your question will be forwarded to the appropriate staff member for a response.