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North West Priority Growth Area Land Use and Infrastructure Implementation Plan Released

On 16 May 2017 the Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) released the draft North West Priority Growth Area Land Use and Infrastructure Implementation Plan, which is a ten-year plan to guide development and infrastructure delivery in the North West Growth Centre.

The Implementation Plan follows the North West Growth Centre Structure Plan 2006, which set the overall Growth Centre vision. The Implementation Plan is interactive, enabling easy access to updated information on the status of land use and development and planned infrastructure delivery. The DP&E website now includes an interactive mapping tool with summary information on the status of precincts and infrastructure, as well as other strategic actions. Links from the mapping tool provide access to detailed information, including Development Control Plans, background technical studies and the status of infrastructure projects.

As demonstrated below, the Implementation Plan substantially updates the North West Growth Centre Structure Plan 2006, accounting for work undertaken since 2006, and providing additional detail on the growth opportunities for additional areas in the North West Priority Growth Area.

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The former North West Growth Centre Structure Plan

 

 

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The North West Priority Growth Area Implementation Plan

 

The Implementation Plan proposes to rationalise existing statutory planning controls and facilitate transition from the Growth Centres State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) to local plans, prioritise the delivery of infrastructure, urban development and open space through to 2027 and beyond. The plan also reflects updated strategic thinking throughout the Sydney Basin, referencing future directions guided by the updated A Plan for Growing Sydney, the Draft District Plans (we have previously discussed this in the article: Release of Draft District Plans for the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Region​) and the Western Sydney Airport City (we have previously discussed this in the article:Looking Skywards for an Aerotropolis in Greater Western Sydney).

The Implementation Plan outlines eight key actions, which aim to guide the ongoing development of the North West Priority Growth Area.

Action 1 – Provide more land supply for new homes

  • The plan continues to be underpinned by housing and jobs growth consistent with of the objectives of the Growth Centres SEPP.
  • There has been a noticeable shift in priorities, with a movement towards better aligning the release of land for urban development and the delivery of supporting infrastructure. The linkage of rezoning of sites and provision of sewage, stormwater and electricity, and the prioritisation of enabling infrastructure projects, aims to move these two stages as close together as practicable.
  • The plan notes the growing market demand for diverse housing products within the Priority Growth Area.
  • Under the amended plan, it is anticipated that the updated plan could account for an additional 20,000 dwellings across the Priority Growth Area above that originally anticipated.

Action 2 – Protect and plan for major transport corridors

  • The plan reflects the additional transport planning work to reflect progression in transport projects since the 2006 Structure Plan, in particular the corridor for Sydney Metro North West to Marsden Park, and key road corridors along Schofields Road and South Street, and an extension of Bandon Road west to Richmond Road.
  • A future public transport corridor between Cudgegong Road and Schofields is identified in the plan as being a key node for future development, due to its role as a future interchange.
  • This transport corridor is extended to the Marsden Park Strategic Centre, making the Rouse Hill to Marsden Park corridor vitally important to the overall functioning of the Priority Growth Area.  
  • Alongside public transport, priority road infrastructure upgrades are identified through to 2027 and beyond. Importantly, the schedule identifies responsibilities for delivery, a required date of completion and other assumptions as a clear framework to completion.

Action 3 – Manage residential densities to align with infrastructure

  • The existing density controls under the Growth Centres SEPP will be replaced by minimum and maximum density controls in residential zoned land. The intent is to provide greater certainty of future population growth to inform infrastructure and service planning and delivery.
  • Minimum lot sizes will also be set consistently across the Priority Growth Area, to simplify the interpretation of controls and provide for easier assessment.

Action 4 – Protect assets and plan for evacuation

  • Flooding has historically been and continues to be, a key consideration for any development in the Priority Growth Area. DP&E will implement measures to manage the risks of flooding to life and property.
  • Public open space is also identified within the plan, with connectivity between significant areas of public open space noted as a key objective of the plan. This is consistent with the ‘Green Grid’ identified under the Draft District Plans.

Action 5 – Transfer more planning controls back to local councils

  • DP&E will work to progressively transfer controls for development in the Growth Centres from the Growth Centres SEPP back to Local Environmental Plans.
  • Amendments are proposed to align Growth Centre controls better with Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plans.

Action 6 – Simplify planning controls within the Blacktown precincts in the North West Priority Growth Area

  • Development in the Blacktown Council portion of the Priority Growth Area is controlled under six separate precinct plans.
  • The plan proposes to consolidate these into a single precinct plan, to improve consistency of controls and ease of interpretation, and to facilitate transition of the Growth Centre controls into Blacktown Local Environmental Plan.

Action 7 – Review infrastructure requirements and accelerate funding for capital works

  • The existing Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC) schedule for the Priority Growth Area will be reviewed, with the intention of supporting growth in the region over the coming ten years.
  • Given the current balance of the SIC fund at $76.628 million, with a program of $102 million works provided with works-in-kind credits, it is likely that these contribution rates will increase as a result of this plan.
  • The plan recognizes that increased densities will lead to higher than previously anticipated population growth, and that additional infrastructure to support the population will need additional funding.

Action 8 – Improve pedestrian, cycle and green connectivity

  • DP&E will work to plan for improved pedestrian and cycle connectivity to key destinations within the Priority Growth Area, including implementation of the Green Grid as outlined in the draft District Plan. 
  • Creek corridors such as Eastern Creek and South Creek will play important roles in the Green Grid as extensions to existing regional open space, such as the Western Sydney Parklands.

Concluding Remarks

The Implementation Plan is a much needed refresh of the approach to planning for the North West Priority Growth Area. The proposed package of actions addresses both the strategic vision for development and infrastructure delivery, and the statutory mechanisms that control and enable development.  Fundamentally, the Implementation Plan acknowledges that the drivers for growth have change over the last decade, and that the North West Priority Growth Area is emerging as a more urban, mixed use and higher density growth area than was envisaged when the Growth Centres was established in 2006. The Plan also reflects the clear direction the NSW Government is setting in relation to the delivery of essential infrastructure and the prioritisation of essential infrastructure over a ten year program. The plan will also give substantially more clarity to both the development industry and infrastructure agencies.

The Implementation Plan will be updated annually, providing ongoing opportunities to ensure that the plan retains relevance both in terms of consistency with other plans and policies, as well as with the evolving development market.

Proposals to limit residential densities through the introduction of maximum residential densities seek to deliver greater certainty for the NSW Government.  However, the detail of proposed density caps requires further consideration to ensure that the development industry can deliver densities that are appropriate to the market, and which make the most of Government investment in major infrastructure projects like the Sydney Metro Northwest. 

We look forward to the Department’s planned review of the Schofields Road corridor, as this is a substantial opportunity to deliver high amenity and highly accessible transit oriented development that will fundamentally change the character of the Priority Growth Area for the better.

The foreshadowed review of the Western Sydney Growth Areas Special Infrastructure Contribution is also a great opportunity to re-cast the framework for funding state infrastructure, recognising that higher density development must be supported by transport, education, regional open space and biodiversity offsets.  Prioritising infrastructure projects and establishing a ten year delivery program will significantly increase transparency in the administration of the SIC levy, and deliver real benefits for new residents that have contributed funding towards essential infrastructure.

Similar strategies are anticipated by the draft District Plans for the South West Priority Growth Area and the Western Sydney Priority Growth Area.  These plans will be central to implementing actions specifically targeted at these Priority Growth Areas in the District Plans, as they facilitate delivery of homes, jobs and infrastructure.

About the author

Tim.jpg

Tim Smith

MPIA
Urban Planner

Tim is a talented Urban Planner who has recently completed his Bachelor of Planning, receiving Honours Class 1 at the University of New South Wales

Paul Robilliard

Paul Robilliard

BTP, MEnvMgt
Director

Paul is a Director with 20 years’ experience as a planner and project manager.

Posted in Town Planning