25 Mar 2022

As the property industry digests the new framework, we’ve analysed the most important changes that will affect development for the Aerotropolis.

The highly anticipated Aerotropolis Planning Framework was finalised on March 25 to deliver a new and economically powerful parkland city to leverage Western Sydney International Airport. With the promise of a ‘beyond business as usual’ landscape led approach, the revised package also seeks to connect with Country and strengthen existing natural systems. How will the new framework take these matters into account?

Since the announcement in 2015 of the intention to build a new international airport at Badgerys Creek, there has been a significant focus on the catalytic effect it would have on the region’s economic growth.

Urbis congratulates the NSW Government on this milestone. It’s a significant step in planning for the Aerotropolis and brings further certainty to the development industry and unlocks significant land to meet the future employment needs of Western Sydney.

The evolution of the Aerotropolis has been an incredible journey for Western Sydney. From the early Broader WSEA Structure Plan to the announcement of the airport and a series of plan iterations – which now mean we have zoned land with a functioning planning framework.  Large and small landowners now have many planning pathways that can accommodate both local and State significant development. 

The new option for a Master Plan to vary the Precinct Plan and set a stretch target for complying development is a novel approach that proponents are likely to adopt in the next twelve months.

On the way, there has been detailed feedback from the community. The Department has done well to address these challenges, listen to all stakeholders and produce a workable set of planning documents.  

  • Amendments to State Environmental Planning Policy (Precincts—Western Parkland City) 2021 (formerly Aerotropolis SEPP) (Precincts SEPP), State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021 (formerly State and Regional Development SEPP) (Planning Systems SEPP), Liverpool Local Environmental Plan 2008 and Penrith Local Environmental Plan 2011.
  • The Precinct Plan for the Aerotropolis Core (Bradfield), Badgerys Creek, Wianamatta South Creek, Northern Gateway and Agribusiness initial precincts.
  • The Aerotropolis Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC)
  • Luddenham Village Interim Strategy.
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  • Significant changes to the process for achieving design excellence in the Aerotropolis, including:

    Changes to the types of development required to undertake a design competition. This requirement now only applies to buildings greater than 40m or 12 storeys. This means that warehousing / industrial developments less than 40 m in height are no longer required to undertake a design competition.

    Increasing the Capital Investment Value (CIV) and site area thresholds for design excellence review from $20 million to $30 million CIV and 5000 sq m to 10,000 sq m respectively.

    Introduction of a new clause that permits inconsistencies with the Precinct Plan to be justified by a written request that demonstrates to the consent authority that the variation is minor, unreasonable or unnecessary, and has sufficient planning grounds for the inconsistency.

  • Increasing the Capital Investment Value threshold for design review from $20 million to $30 million and development with a site area of at least 10,000 sq m.
  • Introduction of a new clause that would allow inconsistencies with the Precinct Plan to be justified by a written request (minor, unreasonable or unnecessary and sufficient planning grounds).
  • Removal of the minimum site area of 100 ha, ownership requirements for the new master planning process and permission for the minister to approve a master plan that would be inconsistent with the Precinct Plan.
  • Embedding the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Guidelines as consideration for development.
  • A more flexible precinct plan structure, with many of the controls on permeability, site coverage, etc. moved to the phase 2 Development Control Plan.
  • Limiting the fixed location of roads to higher order arterial and sub-arterial roads. All other internal (local) roads are shown as indicative only in the Precinct Plan and subject to more detailed design at the development application stage.
  • The ability to transfer Floor Space Ratio, where land is partly zoned Mixed Use and partly zoned Environment and Recreation.
  • Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC) remains substantially the same as previous rates.
  • The Planning Systems SEPP, which provides the parameters for State Significant Development (SSD), has been amended to include land with the Aerotropolis over a capital investment value of $30 million, and a requirement that development must not be prohibited. This effectively eliminates the SSD’s ability to seek consent for development, which can be partly prohibited.
  • Minimal change to the Environment and Recreation zone boundaries to reflect more detailed ground truthing of riparian corridors and 1:100 flood levels.
  • The revised SEPP maintains a role for the Wester City Parkland Authority (WCPA) approving a precinct plan. This still presents a possible conflict of interest.
  • Acquisition overlays for stormwater management and identification of a new Regional Stormwater Authority with Sydney Water. Detailed design is yet to take place, which means a potentially lengthy process to change these areas once final designs are known.
  • Acquisition overlays for open space instead of a special purpose zone. Funding arrangements for the acquisition of these areas are still underway in terms of finalising them in a local contributions plan. Greater certainty about acquisition is a big step forward.
  • Reintroduction of previously permitted uses, which were permissible immediately before 1 October 2020.
  • Changes to Airport Safeguarding Controls, including adjustment to public safety zones and inclusion of new ‘building restricted area’ requirements, relating to development near airport runways that could affect communication, navigation and surveillance facilities.
  • Performance criteria relating to water quality and flow objectives have been included in the Precinct Plan. These criteria can be achieved through a regional stormwater system or on-site.
  • Updating the development sequencing arrangements and controls to ensure adequate consultation with utility providers and Transport for NSW to determine whether consent can be granted.

Urbis will be continuing to work with clients and The Department, including the resolution of DCP 2 and the practical implementation of the latest package, as formal development proposals can now begin to progress with much greater certainty through the approval process.

Our expert planners understand how the Aerotropolis Planning Framework impacts your developments and are here to help you.

Contact our team to discuss your project.

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