Council Crown land manager

Every local council participates in the management of Crown reserves as an appointed Crown land manager (CLM). Together, councils manage around 6,500 Crown reserves across NSW. All community land managed by a council and used by the community must have a Plan of Management as required under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (CLM Act) and the Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act). The following sections provide information to assist councils to classify, categorise and develop plans of management for council-managed Crown reserves.

Preparing Plans of Management

Classification of reserves

Check the Council CLM Reserves Portal for all reserves for which council is the appointed Crown land manager (CLM) and consider the classifications and initial categorisations for each reserve. Confirm community land classification of Crown reserves or seek operational classification if appropriate.

Initial categorisation of reserves

Assign initial categorisations for community land Crown reserves and notify the Minister responsible for administering the CLM Act by completing the Initial categorisation FORM - notice of assigned categorisations. If there are multiple categories across a reserve, a map must be provided. Refer to the Guide for initial categorisation of Crown reserves for Council Crown Land Managers.

Draft Plans of Management (PoM)

Councils must prepare plans of management (PoM) for all community land and submit a copy of the draft plan to the Minister responsible for the CLM Act, as landowner, prior to public exhibition. Refer to the Guideline for developing Plans of Management for community land (September 2021)

When submitting the draft PoM for review by the department, councils must also notify the department (as landowner) prior to public exhibition by completing the Notice of Plan(s) of Management FORM. The form is also used to seek Minister's consent to adopt the PoM, pending no changes are made following public exhibition. Multiple PoM can be included in the one form. It is recommended councils complete the PoM Checklist prior to submitting the draft PoM.

PoM Templates

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.

Native title non-claimant applications can allow for Crown land dealings and activities to proceed where there is no future act pathway and a native title claim or determination has not been made under the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993.  The Department of Planning and Environment has released a fact sheet and how-to guide to assist with understanding processes for non-claimant applications.

A Native Title Manager e-learning resource has been developed to 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

Yearly Notification of Native Title Manager

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.

Leases and Licences information

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

The following templates can be used by councils:

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

Fact sheets and Q&As

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):

  • Natural Area (further 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.

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

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 purpose/s of the land. The following should be considered when assigning categories under the Local Government Act 1993:

  • 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 (further categories apply to 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. Refer to fact sheet on material harm.

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

The following considerations are relevant to 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.

For detailed information, refer to the fact sheet on material harm.

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 (further 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.

What Crown land can be classified as operational land?

Under the Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act), public land is required to be classified as either community or operational land. Under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (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:
a. the land does not fall within any of the categories for community land under the Local Government Act 1993, or
b. 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.

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 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 Plan of Management (PoM) that includes multiple reserves. Where a Crown reserve has the category of Area of Cultural Significance, a site-specific PoM must be prepared, in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 1993. Refer to the Guideline for developing Plans of Management for more information.

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

The terms ‘generic’ and ‘site specific’ are used in the Local Government Act 1993 to describe Plans of Management (PoM). The term ‘generic’ can be used for a group of reserves. This means a council can manage similar reserves in a coordinated and consistent way, including by category or location or reserves that have similar functions but are geographically separate. Examples are preparing one plan for a group of reserves categorised as ‘Park’ or a group of reserves located in a coastal area. A generic PoM can also include all reserves managed by council.

A site 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. 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 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.

Note: Councils are not required to seek approval from the Office of Local Government for their PoM.

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 the lease and licence fact sheet 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 Local Government Act 1993, they will need Minister’s consent to classify land as operational. This consent under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 provides authorisation for the council to manage the Crown land as operational land from that point forward.

Are coastal councils required to refer to their Coastal Management Plans in Plans of Management?

Yes. Coastal councils should include reference to their Coastal Management Plan in the Strategic Objectives and Management Framework sections of the plan of management (PoM). Also include any authorised coastal management development work in the Permissible uses/future uses section of the PoM and any other relevant activities, including leases and licences, for coastal reserves. Refer to section 22 of the Coastal Management Act 2016: Implementation of coastal management program by local councils.

How can caravan parks be effectively managed on Crown reserves?

Crown reserves used for caravan parks can be effectively managed as ‘community land’ by council Crown land managers and best fits into the category of General Community Use (s36I of the Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act)).

Where the reserve includes other areas and uses such as beaches, rock pools, car parks and playgrounds etc, these can be appropriately categorised under any of the categories under the LG Act. If the caravan park has existing residential tenancies or privately owned caravans, council should identify in their plan of management the number of those occupations, the terms of those occupations and how council manages them.

A caravan park on a Crown reserve requires a site-specific plan of management. However, if there are multiple caravan parks on Crown land managed by council, these can be combined in one plan of management.

What is devolved land?

Certain public reserves under devolved management by councils are managed under s48 of the Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act). These public reserves devolve to council when they are not under control or vested in any other body or person or under any lease. The management of these reserves are different to reserves managed under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (CLM Act) and there is no requirement for the preparation and adoption of a PoM.

As councils are not the CLM for reserves devolved to them, they are unable to grant any tenures. However, councils can request to be appointed as CLM for any reserves devolved to them under s48 of the LG Act, by emailing this request to

In terms of everyday management and improvements, councils can manage these reserves consistent with the reserve purpose and may undertake improvements, restoration work, maintenance, or works for public safety.

Difference between land devolved to council and land managed by council CLM

Council CLM of Crown reserve

Crown land devolved to council


Reserve managed under the provisions of the CLM Act.

Reserve managed under section 48 of the (LG Act).


Council is appointed as Crown land manager under s3.3 of the CLM Act.

Council has care, control and management of the Crown reserve.

Councils may undertake activities, development, and dealings in line with an adopted plan of management.

Council is responsible for public reserves, where they are not under the control of or vested in any other body or person or are not held under a lease from the Crown.

Council has control of the public reserve (default position).

Councils may install public infrastructure and improvements which are consistent with the reserve purpose.

Can council deal in the land?


Tenures can be authorised under
cl 70 of the CLM Regulation or under an adopted Plan of Management and LG Act provisions.

Councils cannot sell the land without the consent of the Minister (s.3.22 CLM Act).


If development or activity on the reserve is likely to fall outside the reserve purpose a licence from the Minister to council is required (under s2.18 CLM Act).

Councils cannot tenure or sell the land.

Is Landowners consent required for DAs?

Only in certain circumstances where deemed consent is not provided.

SEPP (Transport & Infrastructure) 2021 has certain provisions in which consent is not required, if that development has been expressly authorised and is for the purposes of implementing the adopted PoM.

Yes, for all DAs.

Can council issues interments?

Yes, under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013

Yes, under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013

Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 applicable?



Native Title Act 1993 applicable?



Ownership of assets on Crown land?

The land is Crown land and fixtures are owned by the Crown. Any proposal for the transfer of assets should be raised at an early stage with the Minister so any power to do so may be explored.

The land is Crown land and fixtures are owned by the Crown. Any proposal for the transfer of assets should be raised at an early stage with the Minister so any power to do so may be explored.

Latest news

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