7 May 2021

The Central Sydney Planning Strategy (CSPS) is currently under review by NSW Government and is expected to be implemented by mid-2021. While, much progress has been made to reach this stage, including an agreement between State government and the City of Sydney Council on contentious issues (as discussed here), there is still a long way to go to ensure the CSPS delivers on key strategic objectives.

NSW Government will review submissions from the public and determine any transitional provisions prior to reaching the final planning controls. However, we do expect the following provisions will remain:

  • Removal of floor space incentives for residential uses 
  • Tower Cluster Mapped Areas and 50% uplift opportunity for commercial uses 
  • New development contributions requirements, increasing to 3% across Central Sydney.

As a result of industry engagement with Council, there were some minor concessions made to the adopted CSPS, with the following items still to be investigated:

  • including other non-residential uses eligible for accommodation floor space
  • additional floor space for employment uses in Tower Cluster Areas
  • incentives for the retention and re-use of existing buildings 
  • Host workshops with industry to improve the understanding and use of guidance documents. 

New Strategic Precincts

Three new strategic precincts to improve and support business, employment and cultural activities are being progressed by Council. This will involve commercial uplift. We do not anticipate any substantial increase in housing opportunity and in some instances, such as North Alexandria, there will be a strategic intent to restrict residential encroachment.  

Please see below for a map of the new strategic precincts and associated key features. 

We are currently reviewing the recommendations for the Oxford Street Precinct, which will be reported to the City of Sydney on 10 May 2021. The Planning Proposal aligns with the Council’s vision to incentivise opportunities for cultural and creative, entertainment, education, commercial and tourism uses. Some modest height and floor space uplift has also been recommended by Council.

Development Control Plan Challenges

We believe it is vital to remove complexity in applying the new controls and guidelines, particularly Schedule 11 Procedures for demonstrating compliance with variation provisions for setbacks, separations and tapering, proposed for the Development Control Plan component of the CSPS.   

It is our experience that Schedule 11 is overly prescriptive and not in keeping with the intention for flexibility. This level of complexity can be difficult for designers to interpret and in turn provides challenges for feasibility testing and subsequent disincentive to the market.  

Council has commenced workshops with key stakeholders allowing engagement and feedback in relation to some of the more complex matters associated with the Schedule 11 provisions.  At one such workshop led by the Property Council, a key focus has been to ensure that the intent of achieving good urban amenity outcomes is not undermined by overly complicated and inflexible provisions.  

Local Environmental Plan Review

The City is preparing another Local Government Area wide update to the Local Environmental Plan planning controls which will work in collaboration with CSPS. The updated Plan will implement the recent Local Strategic Planning Statement – City Plan 2036 (LSPS) which sets the local planning priorities for the next 15 years.  Focus areas include strategic growth and employment opportunities for: 

  • Botany Road Corridor
  • Oxford Street
  • North Alexandria

Improved and new controls to:

  • protect and conserve heritage areas. 
  • introduce a net-zero energy pathway for development.
  • reinforce the role of Enterprise Areas.

Council has developed performance standards to deliver net zero energy buildings for new office, multi-unit residential, hotel and shopping centre developments, as well as major refurbishments of existing buildings. These improvements can be made through adopting energy efficiency as well as through on-site and offsite renewable energy.

The Implementation will occur over two phases, commencing for Development Applications lodged from 2023, and the second phase applying from 2026.  It will be necessary to provide off-site renewable energy to meet Phase Two targets. 

We anticipate public exhibition for the Local Environmental Plan amendments from mid-2021.


Our team of experts will keep you updated on progress of Sydney CBD planning reforms. We also wish to note at this stage that we anticipate key policy initiatives or public exhibition timeframes will occur prior to end of July and are therefore unlikely to be impacted by Council elections in September 2021.

For further information on Sydney CBD planning reforms and how these may affect your project, please contact:

Tim Blythe View Profile
Andrew Harvey View Profile
Ashleigh Ryan View Profile
Stephen White View Profile