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Shoal Bay Place Plan

Shoal Bay Place Plan survey

The draft Shoal Bay Place Plan is on exhibition until 5pm Sunday 25 February 2024. To make it easier for you to have your say and lodge a submission, we've created this short survey.

Have your say – draft Shoal Bay Place Plan

Our draft Place Plan consolidates Shoal Bay’s strengths, and ambitions, and identifies short, medium and long-term actions that Council and the community can work on together to create opportunities. This Place Plan also sets out a pathway to nurture everything that’s already great about Shoal Bay.

The draft Place Plan is currently on Public Exhibition until 5pm Sunday 25 February 2024. This is your chance to have your say on the proposed actions in the plan that aim to make Shoal Bay a better place to live, work, and recreate.

Complete the survey
To make it easier for you to have your say and lodge a submission, we've created this short survey.

Attend a drop-in
We'll be at the Shoal Bay Foreshore to answer any questions or discuss projects you'd like to see happen.

  • 10am to 12pm, Tuesday 3 February and Saturday 17  February


Liveability score

In August 2020, we teamed up with Place Score to complete our first-ever place census. Over 3,700 people across the LGA, including people who live, play and visit Shoal Bay, told us what they value and how they rate the suburb. The survey results helped us identify the priorities for the Shoal Bay community and plan accordingly.

Download the Liveability index for Shoal Bay to learn more about what the residents said they value most in this area.

Get involved

Contact our Senior Strategic Planner on 4988 0462 or via email to arrange a time to talk about your place planning idea, project or register your interest.


Place plans are a way of planning for the growth of our unique towns and villages across Port Stephens. Place plans provide a local filter on the Port Stephens Community Strategic Plan and other important planning documents to create actions which improve the liveability and wellbeing of our communities into the future.

Actions in place plans guide the way we plan for future land use, invest in new infrastructure, attract investment, and bring life to our streets.

The draft Shoal Bay Place Plan aims to build on the community’s values and priorities that are performing well and puts a focus on the elements that require improvement. Council held a series of workshops, surveys and meetings with the local businesses and community members to explore these priorities and ideas for Shoal Bay in more detail.

Shoal Bay continues to experience a high demand for housing and tourism and the draft Place Plan is all about planning for and managing the future projected growth of the area. Using the right planning controls to guide future development, we’ll ensure any development complements the character of the area and makes a positive contribution to the town.

The draft Plan also outlines the potential projects that could be undertaken using funds raised from Smart Parking.

Increasing heights is the most sustainable way to accommodate the growth and density needed to rejuvenate Shoal Bay, rather than allowing urban sprawl to creep into the precious surrounding bushland we need to create planning controls that allow for higher density development on existing urban land, which can include apartment buildings, duplexes, terraces, townhouses or granny flats.

In order to thrive, Shoal Bay needs a larger permanent population and the best way to achieve this is by creating a walkable, liveable town centre. Increasing heights will make new developments and investments feasible, which will fund public domain improvements and other community facilities.

Building height can also directly influence access to services. The community has asked for investment in healthcare facilities, educational services and improved transport infrastructure. Only a higher population density will attract this level of investment in urban infrastructure and services in the area.

Step 1: Identify strategic justification and merit to varying building height
Building heights are reviewed as part of Council’s strategic planning. Locality based studies are undertaken to better understand future development opportunities and constraints set against an understanding of the local communities aspirations and desired future character.

Higher buildings have been explored as a way of making the best and most efficient use of available serviced land, providing for housing mix and housing diversity and providing greater density opportunities within a walkable catchment of services, open space and recreation opportunities.

Step 2: Initiate a planning proposal to change the Port Stephens Local Environmental Plan 2013 Council will be asked to resolve to prepare a planning proposal to facilitate the strategic planning outcomes.

Step 3: Gateway determination from the Department of Planning and Environment
After reviewing the planning proposal and strategic planning justification, the Minister determines whether it should proceed and sets requirements for further studies, public consultation, State agency consultation and project time frames.

Step 4: Public exhibition of the draft amendment to the Port Stephens Local Environmental Plan 2013

Step 5: Council review and determination
Public submissions are reviewed and Council determines whether to proceed, amend the planning proposal or terminate the planning proposal. If approved, the amendment is made to the Port Stephens Local Environmental Plan 2013 and becomes law.

The NSW Government are proposing changes to the planning rules so we can help speed up the delivery of a range of different housing types and are currently seeking community feedback.

Their reforms will look at a range of opportunities to unlock supply of low-rise housing like terraces and dual occupancies and mid-rise housing of up to 6 storeys in well-located areas, which could include Shoal Bay.

Visit the NSW Government website for more information or to make a submission on these State Government reforms.

The options identified in the draft Place Plan seek to create additional housing supply in Shoal Bay. A more balanced mix of both residential and visitor accommodation stock will enhance the vibrancy and appeal of the town centre and surrounds. Quality residential units are required to provide confidence in the market.

Increasing building heights will enable a mix of residential accommodation, such as townhouses and 1,2,3+ bedroom apartments, that can support mixed use activated street frontages for cafes, restaurants and ground level amenities.

New buildings could be marketed at seniors looking to downsize to live near vital services, young people looking to live and work at the Bay or those looking to buy their first home close to services and the Bay lifestyle.

The NSW Government have implemented a statewide regulatory framework for short term rental accommodation to support homeowners who want to take advantage of holiday rentals but also provide certainty and safety for local communities and visitors. Find our more information at

The draft Place Plan proposes various projects to improve access in and around Shoal Bay. Projects include improvements or replacement of existing roads, additional pedestrian and cycle infrastructure, drainage improvements and recreational facilities.

The draft Place Plan also identifies a potential location for a second access road from Harwood Road. Any action for an alternative road option would require further investigations and significant consultation with Transport for NSW, National Parks & Wildlife Service and adjoining (or nearby) landholders to determine its feasibility. This would be a long term project that requires significant planning, funding arrangements and partnerships with relevant stakeholders. Construction of the project is unlikely to occur in the next 5 years. There is no intention to acquire private property to construct this road.

The Fingal Bay bypass is a project that is being considered by Transport for NSW. Find out more about this project via the Transport for NSW website.

The installation of Smart Parking is one way that we’re managing car parking in Shoal Bay. Smart Parking is designed to improve the turn-over of parking spaces to create more equitable access to parking in the Shoal Bay town centre. Smart Parking also provides funding to support local infrastructure projects. The infrastructure is aligned to the priorities of the community and includes car park upgrades.

The existing resident and business Park Free Permit Scheme currently used in Nelson Bay has also been extended to Smart Parking in Shoal Bay.

The NSW Government is looking into the potential of the Tomaree Lodge site for future community and recreational uses. Port Stephens Council and local community groups are ready to collaborate with the Government to achieve the best community outcomes. We’ll continue to advocate that the future uses of the site be respectful of the historical and environmental importance of the site, accessible to the entire community, and safe in design. A sustainable operating model needs to ensure a high quality community and visitor experience. We’ll continue to engage with the Government for an outcome that will retain public access, and acceptable levels of infrastructure.

The draft Place Plan indicates that there’s an opportunity to increase building heights at Harbourside Village. We’ve consulted with Harbourside Haven and they’re interested in increasing the capacity in the future. The redevelopment of this site to higher densities would enable additional dwellings and a greater variety of housing choices, enabling people to age in place. Planning controls will also be investigated to ensure that any proposed redevelopment makes a positive statement at this prominent gateway location.

The draft Place Plan has been prepared following extensive community consultation, which you can read about in the engagement report (add hyperlink).

The plan reflects what we heard from the Shoal Bay community during engagement, so now we’re checking in to make sure we got it right. It’s on exhibition until 5pm Sunday 25 February.

To have your say, you can make a submission, complete the online survey or visit one of the community drop-in sessions scheduled at Shoal Bay Foreshore on the 13 and 17February from 10am – 12pm.

All public officials are bound by Council’s Code of Conduct and are required to disclose any conflict of interest where they may have a private interest such as owning property. If there’s a conflict, they’re can’t participate in any meetings or decision making.