A sustainable, resilient alpine capital

The Snowy Mountains is well known in Australia as an alpine destination, particularly popular in the winter months for snow-based tourism. It is Australia’s most seasonal tourism destination, with the economy being driven by its winter tourism peak, and contrasted by a much quieter summer season.

The Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct was announced in November 2019, with the aim of turning Australia’s most seasonal, winter-based destination into a sustainable, resilient, year-round tourism destination as Australia’s alpine capital.  Special Activation Precincts are areas that the NSW Government invests into for economic growth, employment opportunities and to attract more people to the area.

The investigation area for the Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct was 70,000 hectares and incorporated Jindabyne, Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass. Investigations were carried out across a number of technical studies that informed the Structure Plan, and ultimately the Master Plan, released on 1 July 2022.

Housing and Accommodation Study

Ethos Urban completed the Housing and Accommodation technical study that contributed to the development of the Structure Plan for the precinct. The Housing and Accommodation Study provided clear advice on future housing and accommodation to meet the needs of residents, visitors and seasonal workers.

Seasonal fluctuations in the precinct’s population presents challenges in the availability of visitor and seasonal worker accommodation and the affordability of housing for locals. This seasonality results in a critical under-supply of accommodation and housing during peak ski season. Ethos Urban advised that a balanced approach to housing is fundamental to the future growth of the Snowy Mountains. Increasing the diversity and supply of housing in the precinct, particularly in and around Jindabyne, will provide for more accommodation choices for residents, seasonal workers and visitors.

Social Infrastructure Study

Ethos Urban’s Director, Social Strategy, Liesl Codrington led and wrote the Social Infrastructure Study and was part of the core Structure Planning leadership team prior to joining Ethos Urban. With social infrastructure being highly strained in peak ski season, the Social Infrastructure Study aims to ensure social infrastructure provides liveability for residents and amenity for visitors, accounting for variation in population across the year.

Social and community infrastructure incorporates facilities and services that are used for the physical, social, and cultural needs of the community, meaning they play a crucial role in resident wellbeing. A benchmarking approach was used to advise on existing and future needs for social infrastructure. This was supported by a more qualitative analysis and principle-led strategic advice to support a resilient and socially sustainable community for the future.

Co-design approach

A collaborative approach to the development of the Structure Plan was crucial to obtaining quality outcomes for the precinct. This involved government stakeholders and consultants across all the technical streams coming together for a series of visioning and Enquiry by Design workshops, held both in person and online at key points throughout the project. By leading and participating these workshops, our team helped drive the vision for the precinct and ensure that each of the technical studies were aligned to the overall vision for a more sustainable Snowy Mountains precinct.


Liesl Codrington

Liesl Codrington

Director, Social Strategy | Canberra & Sydney

Paul Robilliard

Paul Robilliard

Director | Sydney