Legislation & policies

The NSW Government is improving management of the state’s Crown land by implementing consolidated, modern and new legislation.

Commencing on 1 July 2018, the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (the Act) implements reforms identified through the comprehensive review of Crown land management and follows over four years of engagement with the community on the future of Crown land.

Stakeholder readiness was a key consideration in determining the commencement of the Act. Aligning commencement with the start of the new financial year has reduced complexity and duplication for stakeholders and provided time to prepare for the changes.

The department’s policies guide our decisions and actions in implementing the legislation.

The Crown Land Management Act 2016

From 1 July the following Acts were wholly repealed and are no longer in force:

  • Crown Lands Act 1989
  • Crown Lands (Continued Tenures) Act 1989
  • Hay Irrigation Act 1902
  • Irrigation Areas (Reduction of Rents) Act
  • Murrumbidgee Irrigation Areas Occupiers Relief Act
  • Orange Show Ground Act 1897
  • Public Reserves Management Fund Act 1987
  • Trustees of Schools of Arts Enabling Act 1902
  • Wentworth Irrigation Act 1890
  • Western Lands Act 1901
  • Western Lands Amendment Act 2009

Other key features of the new legislation include:

Crown Land Commissioner

A Crown Land Commissioner will be appointed with broad advisory and inquiry functions. They will play a key role in maintaining transparency and open communication regarding the management of Crown land.

Stronger community engagement

The Community Engagement Strategy which outlines requirements for engagement on key Crown land dealings will come into effect. This is a new approach to engaging about Crown land in NSW.

New opportunity for Western lands

The Act allows holders of eligible Western Lands Leases to apply to purchase those leases, which will convert the title to freehold. Some leaseholders in the Western Division have been able to purchase their Western Lands Lease for some time; these include urban leases for business and residential purposes and a number of agricultural leases. The Act provides a new opportunity for grazing leaseholders in the Western Division.

Improving reserve management

The Act improves the governance of Crown reserves whilst continuing to strengthen community involvement.

All current managers of Crown reserves will remain in place. Transition guides are available for managers and provide information about the new Act.

Local councils will manage Crown land under the public land provisions of the Local Government Act 1993. To support the development of plans of management for Crown reserves local councils will receive funding to meet the new requirement.

To support transition to the new reserve management structure, existing corporate managed reserve trusts will continue until 1 July 2019. This gives them extra time to make operational changes such as updating financial, banking, tax and insurance details associated with their reserve trusts.

Transitioned agreements and arrangements

Tenures: Any existing lease, licence or permit issued under previous legislation will continue for its agreed term. From 1 July 2018, all new leases, licences and permits will be issued under the new legislation.

Reserve managers: Managers of Crown reserves under previous legislation were automatically appointed as Crown land managers under the new Act and will continue to manage their reserves.

New regulations to support the Act

The regulations provide clarity and certainty for Crown land managers, tenure holders, and users of Crown land, and information about how parts of the Act are to be implemented.

A draft of the Crown Land Management Regulation 2018 was publicly exhibited for six weeks between 4 September and 15 October 2017, with 83 submissions received and considered.

Download the submissions (PDF, 19146.46 KB) and frequently asked questions on the regulations for more information.

Crown Land Management Regulation - December 2019 amendment

Maximum terms for leases and licences regulation

The Crown Land Management Regulation 2018 (clause 70) has been amended to extend the maximum term for which Councils, as Crown land managers, can enter into lease or licences over Crown land for emergency services organisations, not-for-profit and community groups from 5 to 21 years.

The Crown Land Management Act 2016, which came into effect in 2018, gave local councils three years until June 2021 (the initial period) to develop Plans of Management for about 5,000 Crown reserves that they manage on behalf of their communities.

Up until now, local councils were only allowed to enter into these kinds of new Crown land leases or licences for a maximum of five years during the initial period. The consent of the Minister is required for any contemplated lease or licence under clause 70.

The updated 21 year Crown land lease or licence terms will give emergency services organisations, not-for-profit and community groups greater support and security, allowing them to confidently invest and improve their assets while helping them deliver social and public benefits to the community.

Clause 70 is available within the initial period until a Council Crown land manager either adopts a Plan of Management over the reserved Crown land, or obtains the consent of the Minister to manage the land as is it were operational land under the Local Government Act 1993.

For more information, refer to the Council Crown Land Manager fact sheet


Delegations support the operation of the Act by enabling departmental staff to carry out functions on behalf of the Minister for Lands and Forestry.

Supporting documents

Stakeholder updates