The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has released its draft Land Use and Infrastructure Implementation Plan (Draft Land Use Plan) for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, inviting comments from the public until 12 October 2018.

This will be of interest to developers and businesses considering expanding into Badgery's Creek, as it sets out the draft roadmap for creation of a greenfields city, including a bespoke planning regime for master planning and approving development.

The Draft Land Use Plan follows the 'Western Sydney City Deal', a 20 year agreement signed in March 2018 between the Commonwealth, NSW and eight local councils to invest in Western Sydney. An 11,200 hectare city is planned around Badgery's Creek with aviation oriented business, high technology industries and residential use. The Draft Land Use Plan leverages off other recent announcements in the region, including the North South Rail Link, which is proposed to link to the new airport and Aerotropolis core, as well as the Outer Sydney Orbital, Western Sydney Freight Line, and a number of announced and proposed growth areas in Western Sydney.

The vision for the new city

The Draft Land Use Plan envisages the Western Sydney Aerotropolis being developed into a total of nine precincts. Details on the subsequent six precincts will be developed in the second stage of the Land Use Plan, with this Plan dealing with the specifics for the first three precincts:

  • Aerotropolis Core (60,000 jobs and 8,000 homes) - The core of the new city, this precinct is proposed to be mixed use with 80% intended to be developed for employment uses including defence, aerospace industries, STEM universities, a proposed Aerospace Institute, and public high school focused on aerospace and aviation industries. The Aerotropolis Core will be a "24-hour global centre" with a "thriving after-hours economy". The Draft Land Use Plan provides for development up to 12 storeys.
  • Northern Gateway (22,500+ jobs and 3,400+ homes) - At the entrance to the airport, this precinct is proposed to be developed for industries including: education, high technology, research and development associated with food production and processing. Some residential will be permitted outside the ANEC/ANEF 20 contour.
  • South Creek (500 jobs, "minimal" homes) - This precinct will create 'a green spine' for the new city, providing open space, biodiversity and amenity. The precinct will create connected open space, community facilities, restaurants, cafes, water management, and active transport uses for pedestrians and cyclists, leveraging the visual and amenity of South Creek.

A bespoke approach to planning and delivery

The Draft Land Use Plan envisages a coordinated approach between local, state and Commonwealth governments. The 'Western Sydney Planning Partnership' (Partnership), comprising the eight Western City District Councils and Blacktown City Council, NSW Government, Greater Sydney Commission, and Australian government, will be responsible for the development of master plans for rezoning the initial and subsequent precincts ("Precinct Plans"). This is in contrast to the usual 'siloed' approach to rezoning, which is usually done at a local government level.

A new Authority will be created through legislation to facilitate infrastructure delivery, similar to the Barangaroo Delivery Authority. This Authority will coordinate development of the nine precincts, and have powers to acquire and consolidate land, plan and coordinate infrastructure development, develop government-owned land (including as JVs with private landowners), and liaise with WSA Co and industry/business.

A new SEPP for the Aerotropolis

A new State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) will be created, creating planning pathways for complying, council assessed, and state significant development. This will include zoning for:

  • an urban development zone which will enable master planning of the greenfield release areas by creation of precinct plans on a staged basis.
  • infrastructure zone
  • environment zone.

The LEP will continue to apply until the partnership rezones a precinct through a precinct plan. It will also be possible for a landowner to "spot rezone" their site through a planning proposal to bring it under the SEPP, if the proposal can satisfy various strategic planning principles. This will involve a gateway planning process, and the governance processes will be modelled on the Unsolicited Proposal Guide 2017.

In parallel to the SEPP, an agricultural and agribusiness precinct with existing agri-business will be recognised in updated provisions of LEPs for Liverpool and Penrith.

"Value sharing mechanisms" for the Aerotropolis will include development contributions, Special Infrastructure Contributions, fixed development consent levies, affordable housing contributions, and voluntary planning agreements, as well as "other" potential value sharing mechanisms that are currently being "explored and developed". The SEPP will include unspecified incentives to encourage future desired land uses.

Planning principles for the Aerotropolis

The intended planning outcomes for the Aerotropolis include:

  • a liveable, connected, city where infrastructure needs are aligned with funding, there is access to open public space within walking distance, and development interfaces with public transport and road connections;
  • a sustainable, water and energy efficiency city, which will include a requirement for solar panels on or at all new industrial buildings and warehouses;
  • a "landscape led" approach which is sensitive to the environmental considerations of Western Sydney, such as flood risks, urban heat, biodiversity, and creeks;
  • accommodating the safe and curfew-free operation of the airport, with residential homes in the east and south away from the airport built to minimise noise intrusion, adherence to height controls, and restrictions on the intensification of existing or approved sensitive land uses within the ANEF/ANEC noise contours;
  • urban density comparable to inner city locations, with terraces, and low-medium rise units;
  • no minimum lot sizes, expanded categories of exempt and complying development, and "new flexible land use zones unique to the Aerotropolis".