Congratulations to the Planning Partnership, Western Parkland City Authority and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on the release of its Aerotropolis planning package. It is a significant achievement and the culmination of a number of years of detailed analysis, and collaboration between Government, community and industry.

What was released?

The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces released a package of planning policies for the Aerotropolis. Key elements of the package include:

The Western Sydney Aerotropolis Plan

The Aerotropolis plan is the key strategy and visioning document for the Aerotropolis.  It’s vision for the Aerotropolis is that it will:

  • Drive transformational change in Western Sydney, delivering development that respects and connects with Country, and values and enhances natural assets to create a cool and green city
  • Nurture future industry, creating greater productivity and significant increases in jobs in Western Sydney
  • New housing protected from the airport’s operations, within walkable centres with access to public space and cultural infrastructure.

The Plan defines the sub-precincts with Aerotropolis and describes the desired strategic outcomes.

State Environmental Planning Policy (Western Sydney Aerotropolis) 2020

The SEPP creates the planning framework to deliver the Aerotropolis plan’s vision. The SEPP applies five land use zones; Enterprise, Agribusiness, Mixed Use, SP2 Infrastructure, Environment and Recreation.

Large scale urban renewal under the SEPP can occur after Precinct plans (detailed planning controls) have been made.  The SEPP commences operation on 1 October 2020.

Western Sydney Aerotropolis Development Control Plan 2020 – Phase 1

The DCP defines principles, objectives and performance outcomes which will apply across the Aerotropolis. It will inform Precinct planning, creating a consistent approach to land use planning and environmental protection across the Aerotropolis.

What to look out for?

Open zones

The SEPP creates open zones, meaning that the land use table prescribes prohibited development rather than permissible development.  Open zones are supported as they provide significant land use flexibility and facilitate innovation. The assessment of development applications under open zones can be challenging and guidance should be provided to define what matters should be considered in determining permissibility.

Master planning

The SEPP allows master plans to be created for areas of 100 hectares or more of contiguous land, with at least 70% of that land owned by a single party.  A master plan must be prepared in accordance with the (yet to be released) Master Plan Design Guidelines, and when approved must be considered by a consent authority before issuing development consent.  The master plan can specify particular development types that can be carried out as complying development.

The master plan provisions create a mechanism through which land owners can guide and create certainty about future development of their assets. We make the following observations:

  • the master planning guidelines are being prepared and we understand industry will be consulted on them
  • it is difficult to reconcile the interests of different land owners in a strategic planning process. It will be interesting to see how authorities protect the interests of all land owners if a master plan is being prepared by a single major land holder
  • the Minister may adopt a master plan only with the consent of the owner of the land to which the master plan applies. It is unclear if this should be taken to be the consent of all land holders or only the major land holder.
  • Applications for complying development (as defined by a master plan) will need to be accompanied by an Aerotropolis certificate. The Aerotropolis certificate is obtained from the Minister and certifies that the complying development is consistent with the master plan. The need to obtain an Aerotropolis certificate may remove the time and efficiency benefits that come from complying development.

Landscape led approach and Designing for Country

The vision for the Aerotropolis will be achieved by a landscape led approach.  In this approach landscape features are considered as green and blue infrastructure, and are given the same type of consideration as more traditional infrastructure in planning the city. An understanding of landscape starts with an understanding of Country.  This approach to design is innovative and recognises the value of knowledge held by Aboriginal people. We are optimistic this approach will create a city that better respects the land.

Design excellence

The SEPP places a strong emphasis on design excellence.  This aligns with the vision that the Western Parkland city will be an exemplar for development. The provisions require development on sites of 5,000m2 to achieve design excellence and be referred to a design review panel for comment. In a Western Sydney context this threshold is likely to capture a large number of developments.

What’s next?

Precinct Plans

The Western Parkland City Authority is preparing Precinct plans, targeting their release for consultation at the end of this year.

State Infrastructure Contributions Plan

The Greater Sydney Commission is preparing a Place Infrastructure Compact for the Aerotropolis to define infrastructure needs, costs, cost apportionment and staging.  The GSC analysis will inform the preparation of a State Infrastructure Contributions plan which will be release for consultation with the Precinct plans.

Green corridor

The Wianamatta-South Creek corridor is a key feature of the Aerotropolis and critical to the achievement of the envisioned cool and green city.  The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has been tasked with preparing a delivery strategy that will determine how the corridor will be delivered, including potential land acquisitions and access rights.

How can City Plan help?

City Plan is able to provide advice on how the new Plans will affect your land and provide strategic advice on how to prepare for the future.

For more information please contact Mark Schofield (Director) on (02) 8270 3500.