Council Crown land manager

Every local council participates in the management of Crown reserves as an appointed Crown land manager (CLM). Together, councils manage more than 6,000 Crown reserves across NSW. The following sections include guidelines and templates have been developed to assist councils to classify, categorise and prepare plans of management for Crown reserves.

Latest update

The NSW Government has granted councils more time to complete Plans of Management for Crown reserves.

The Crown Land Management Amendment (Plan of Management) Regulation 2021 (CLM Regulation 2021) has removed a requirement for councils to complete Plans of Management by 1 July 2021.

This change will provide councils greater flexibility in the development of Plans of Management for Crown reserves.

Councils now have more time to prioritise resources and to prepare Plans of Management for Crown reserves that are high value, high profile, have multiple uses and where community engagement is expected.

All community land managed by a council and used by the community must have a Plan of Management in place under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (CLM Act) and the Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act) as soon as practicable.

Please refer to Questions & Answers regarding these changes.

For further information please email or call 1300 886 235.

Note: We are in the process of updating Plans of Management guidelines, fact sheets, templates and forms to reflect the changes with the CLM Regulation 2021.

Classification, Initial Categorisation and draft Plans of Management

Councils must follow a four-step process when developing Plans of Management for Crown reserves with their local government area:

  1. Check the Crown reserves for which council is the Crown land manager (CLM) on the Council CLM Reserves Portal and consider classifications and initial categories for each reserve.
  2. Confirm community land classification of Crown reserves or seek operational classification if appropriate.
    1. Classification of Crown land managed by council CLMs
    2. Classification - Annexure A -Operational Land Classification Request Form
    3. Classification - Annexure B - LG Act governance for community land
  3. Assign initial categorisations for community land Crown reserves and notify the Minister responsible for administering the CLM Act by completing the Initial categorisation FORM - Written notice of assigned categorisations. If there are multiple categories across a reserve, a map must be provided delineating the categories with different colours.  If ‘Natural Area’ is assign as a category, and there is more than one sub-category (watercourse, bushland, escarpment, wetland, and/or foreshore), then these will also need to be indicated in the map of the reserve. Refer to Guide for initial categorisation of Crown reserves for Council Crown Land Managers
  4. Councils must prepare plans of management (PoM) for all community land and provide a copy of the draft plan to the Minister responsible for the CLM Act, as landowner prior to public exhibition. Guideline for developing Plans of Management for community land (September 2021)

Plans of Management Templates

The ‘generic’ templates can be used for a ‘group’ of reserves which may have similar functions but are geographically separate (Template 1). This means a council can manage similar reserves in a coordinated and consistent way, including by category. An example is grouping reserves categorised as ‘Parks’ into one plan (Template 2).

A ‘specific’ PoM may be appropriate to apply to one reserve where the use of the land is complex with multiple categories or where the land has special considerations.

Providing written notice of Plans of Management

Council CLMs must notify the department, as landowner, of draft PoM(s) prior to Public Exhibition using the below form. The form can also be used to seek Ministers consent to adopt the PoM(s), pending no changes are made following Public Exhibition. Multiple Plans can be included in the form.

Council CLM Reserves Portal

The Council CLM reserves portal allows councils to:

  • Search and view reserve data such as reserve types, purpose and management type
  • Download the data for use in desktop spatial applications such as ArcMap and MapInfo
  • Gain insight into the distribution of council managed reserves.

Login to the Council CLM reserves portal

For tips refer to the User guide for the Crown land manager reserves portal

Native title and Native Title Managers

Detailed information regarding Native title and the role of Native Title Managers, including the Native Title Manager Workbook, is available on the Aboriginal interests section. The Native title and council responsibilities guidelines for Council General Managers and Executives have been developed to assist council decision-makers in understanding native title requirements under the legislation.

The Quick Reference Guide to Native Title for Councillors assists Councillors with understanding native title and supporting native title managers. There are also videos on native title available to view on the Council Crown Land Managers Training Portal.

Council CLMs must advise Crown Lands of their nominated Native Title Manager/s each year under section 8.8 of the Crown Land Management Act 2016. To notify Crown Lands, please email the name/s of Native Title Manager/s along with their email address and phone number to between 1 July and 31 October each year.

An online Native Title Manager e-learning resource has been developed increase knowledge of native title legislation as it applies to the management for Crown land and to help Crown land managers in providing native title advice. This e-learning resource is supplementary to the approved native title manager training and the Native Title Manager Workbook.

Launch Native title e-learning module

Leases and Licences information

For general information about leasing and licencing on Crown reserves refer to the leases and licences section.

The granting leases and licenses fact sheet for Crown reserves (2022) outlines lease and licence provisions introduced for Council CLMs in 2018.

The following templates can be used by Councils:

Fact sheets

Frequently Asked Questions

What categories can be assigned to community land?

Where Crown land is classified as ‘community land’, councils must assign one or more of the following categories referred to in section 36 of the Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act).
The categories described in the LG Act for community land include:

  • Natural Area (sub-categories: bushland, wetland, escarpment, watercourse, foreshore)
  • Sportsground
  • Park
  • Area of Cultural Significance
  • General Community Use

Councils should assign categories that most closely relate to the purposes for which the land is dedicated or reserved. Assigned categories should not materially harm the use of the land for any of the existing reserve purposes. Initial categorisation of reserves cannot be assigned to cover any proposed or future use. Any change to the categorisation to support a future use can be applied at the Plan of Management stage.

What should councils consider when assigning categories?

Councils must assign a category or categories to a reserve that the council considers are most closely related to the reserve purposes of the land. The following should be considered when assigning categories under the LG Act:

  • Reserve purpose: apply categories that ensure the land is used for the purpose for which it was originally set aside by its dedication or reservation.
  • Current/existing use of the reserve: the initial categorisation cannot be based on proposed or future use. Any change to the categorisation to support a future use should be altered via a Plan of Management.
  • Characteristics of the land: councils should consider the characteristics of the land when assigning a category of Natural Area or Area of Cultural Significance.
  • Material harm: councils should consider whether the management of the reserve under the assigned category is likely to materially harm the use of the land for its existing reserve purposes.

What do councils need to consider when assessing the land for material harm?

The following considerations are relevant to the question of whether the management of the land by reference to the assigned category is likely to materially harm its use for an existing purpose:

  • the proportion of the area of the land that may be affected by the additional purpose,
  • if the activities to be conducted for the additional purpose will be intermittent, the frequency and duration of the impacts of those activities,
  • the degree of permanence of likely harm and whether that harm is irreversible,
  • the current condition of the land,
  • the geographical, environmental and social context of the land,
  • any other considerations that may be prescribed by the regulations.

Can councils assign multiple categories to a reserve?

Yes. Multiple categories can be assigned to a reserve at the initial categorisation stage if the categories are appropriate to the current management of the reserve and the reserve purpose.

For example, for a reserve purpose of ‘public recreation’, categories may include Sportsground and Natural Area (sub-categories apply to Natural Area). If councils apply multiple categories to a reserve, a detailed explanation should be provided which clearly identifies the categories, including a map delineating the categories on the reserve with different colours.

Should a sub-category be assigned for areas categorised as 'Natural Area'?

Yes. A reserve or part of a reserve that is categorised as a Natural Area must be sub-categorised as one or more of the following - bushland, wetland, escarpment, watercourse and foreshore. For example, beaches/sand dunes within a Natural Area of a reserve would be sub-categorised as ‘foreshore’. If there is more than one sub-category of a Natural Area within a reserve, the sub-categories must be clearly identified in the associated maps.

When is it relevant to assign the category 'General Community Use' to all, or part of a reserve, for public recreation?

The category General Community Use is defined for land that is used to promote, encourage and provide for the use of the land, and to provide facilities on the land, to meet the current and future needs of the local community and of the wider public. General Community Use should only be applied where the management of the land does not fit into any other category. Examples appropriate to categorise as General Community Use category include Surf Life Saving Clubs and caravan/holiday parks. Refer to section 36I of the Local Government Act 1993 for more information.

What if there is already a Plan of Management for a reserve?

A new or revised PoM must be developed for Crown reserves under the requirements of the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (CLM Act). This ensures a more consistent approach for the management of Crown reserves. The process for approving an amended Plan of Management is the same as approving a new Plan of Management.

Can one Plan of Management cover multiple reserves?

Yes. Councils can prepare one PoM that includes multiple reserves, in accordance with the provisions of the LG Act. Refer to the Guidelines for Plans of Management on this webpage for more information.

What is the difference between a 'generic' and 'specific' Plan of Management?

The terms ‘generic’ and ‘specific’ are used in the LG Act to describe Plans of Management. The term ‘generic’ can be used for a ‘group’ of reserves which may have similar functions but are geographically separate. This means a council can manage similar reserves in a coordinated and consistent way, including by category. An example is grouping reserves categorised as ‘Parks’ into one plan. A ‘specific’ Plan of Management may be appropriate to apply to one reserve where the use of the land is complex with multiple categories or where the land has special considerations. Refer to the Plan of Management guideline and templates on this webpage.

What is the approvals process for a draft Plan of Management?

The department, as the landowner, is to be notified of the draft Plan of Management (PoM) prior to public exhibition of the plan, under s39 of the Local Government Act 1993. Councils are also required to seek the department's written consent to adopt the draft PoM (under clause 70B of CLM Regulation). The department's consent can be sought at the same time as notifying the landowner of the draft plan.

When the Minister has reviewed a draft PoM, Crown Lands will send a letter to the Council Crown land manager confirming that councils can proceed to publicly exhibit the draft PoM. In some cases, Crown Lands may notify council to resubmit the draft PoM following the public exhibition. In all cases, if council amends the PoM following community consultation, it must again be submitted to Crown Lands for approval by the Minister. If there is no alteration to the PoM following public exhibition, council is required to submit the final version of the PoM to Crown Lands (email: to seek Minister's consent prior to council adopting the final PoM. Refer to the revised PoM Guideline for Council Crown land managers.

Please note, councils are not required to seek approval from the Office of Local Government for their Plans of Management.

Can councils grant leases or licences prior to a Plan of Management being in place?

Prior to the adoption of a Plan of Management for Crown land, councils are able to issue some leases and licences in line with Clause 70 Crown Land Management Regulations 2018. Refer to pre-plan of management lease and licence fact sheets and templates on this webpage.

Are Plans of Management required for land classified as operational land?

No, a PoM is not required for operational land. If councils seek to manage a Crown reserve as operational land under the LG Act, they will need Minister’s consent to classify land as operational. This consent under the CLM Act provides authorisation for the council to manage the Crown land as operational land from that point forward.

What Crown land can be classified as operational land?

Under the LG Act, public land is required to be classified as either community or operational land. Under the CLM Act, councils are authorised to classify and manage the reserve as if it were public land under the LG Act. Under the CLM Act, all reserves are considered to be managed as community land unless the council has written consent from the Minister to manage the land as operational land under the LG Act.

The Minister may give written consent under subsection (4) (b) of the CLM Act for the classification of land as operational land only if the council manager satisfies the Minister that:

  1. the land does not fall within any of the categories for community land under the Local Government Act 1993, or
  2. the land could not continue to be used and dealt with as it currently can if it were required to be used and dealt with as community land

If the land could be managed under one of the categories of community land, then classification as operational land cannot be supported. The reserve purpose is the primary consideration as to whether a Crown reserve qualifies as operational land, regardless of the current use of the reserve. For example, if a reserve purpose is ‘Public Recreation’ then an operational classification cannot be supported.

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