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Growing investment, business opportunities and jobs in strategic centres

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A city supported by infrastructureInfrastructure
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A city for peoplePeople
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A city of great placesPlaces
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Planning Priority C10

Greater Sydney continues to benefit from the historic policy of locating major trip-generating activities (such as retail, hospitality, offices, health and education, community and administrative services) in centres train stations.

The growth, innovation and evolution of centres will underpin the economy of the Central City District. Centres continue to be a key organising element of the urban structure of Greater Sydney and provide access to jobs, goods and services. Their vitality and viability are important to local economies and their character defines local areas. Well-planned centres help to stimulate economic activity and innovation through the co-location of activities, provide jobs closer to where people live and use infrastructure more efficiently.

This Plan builds on the existing strengths of each centre within a common framework to deliver on the wider productivity and liveability objectives to grow jobs across Greater Sydney and improve community access to goods and services.

To manage the growth and change of the Central City District's centres, a centres hierarchy has been established as outlined below:

  • Metropolitan centre: Greater Parramatta (refer to Planning Priority C1 )
  • Strategic centres: Blacktown, Sydney Olympic Park, Norwest, Castle Hill, Rouse Hill, Mount Druitt, Marsden Park, Epping
  • Local centres: (refer to Planning Priority C6).

All strategic centres will be the focus of public transport investments that seek to deliver the 30-minute city objective (refer to Planning Priority C9). Some strategic centres in the Central City District have major office precincts or health and education activities. They differ in size and scale of economic activity. However, as strategic centres, they all have similar expectations, including:

  • high levels of private sector investment
  • flexibility, so that the private sector can choose where and when to invest
  • co-location of a wide mix of activities, including residential
  • high levels of amenity, walkability and being cycle-friendly
  • areas identified for commercial uses, and where appropriate, commercial cores.

Creating the conditions for growth and making centres great places is a focus of the Central City District Plan, as outlined in Action 18.

Employment growth is the principal underlying economic goal for metropolitan and strategic centres. Therefore the designation of a commercial core within a strategic centre for economic and employment uses, may be necessary to manage the impact of residential developments in crowding out commercial activity.

A balance must be struck in providing adequate mixed-use or residential zoned land around the commercial core zone to ensure new residential developments can benefit from access and services in centres.

Centres are not just for economic exchange. They are places where communities gather, and where recreational, cultural and educational pursuits are found. They are important to how people participate in community life.

Delivering housing within a walkable distance of strategic centres is an important outcome as it encourages non-vehicle trips, which foster healthier communities. Housing within centres contributes to a sense of vibrancy; however, the delivery of housing should not constrain commercial and retail activities.

Research has shown that the Central City District will need to accommodate more than 1.76 million square metres of additional retail floor space over the next 20 years15. In addition, there will be significant demand for additional office floor space. Creating the opportunities to attract retail and office development locally brings jobs closer to homes. This requires growth in either existing or new centres. The principles for developing new centres are outlined in this Planning Priority. The NSW Department of Planning and Environment will prepare a state-wide retail planning policy.

Rapid changes in technology and in retail trends, emerging night-time economies and population growth require councils to be agile and responsive in their planning for centres growth.

With economic growth a core goal for centres planning, job targets, expressed as a range, have been identified for each strategic centre. These targets seek to inform planning authorities and infrastructure agencies of the anticipated growth which needs to be planned for each centre. They should not be seen as maximum targets.

The lower end of the range of these job targets reflects the baseline of projected job growth that is anticipated in the centre, while the upper end is an aspirational higher growth scenario to reflect outcomes in the case of future investment and land use planning in centres.

The District also includes large retail centres such as Merrylands that are rapidly growing and provide a diverse range of activities, local services and jobs to a growing population catchment. In giving effect to the District Plan, councils must consider the role of these centres in providing housing and accommodating jobs growth.

Principles for Greater Sydney's centres

As Greater Sydney's population grows over the next 20 years, there will be a need to grow existing centres, particularly strategic centres and supermarket-based local centres, to create new centres including business parks, and attract health and education activities into centres. The principles for developing centres are:

  • Existing centres: Expansion options will need to consider building heights and outward growth. In some cases, directly adjacent industrial land may be appropriate for centre expansions to accommodate businesses. Quality design and adequate infrastructure provision is critical to enable expansions. This approach needs to be informed by local government industrial strategies.
  • New centres: These will be required across the whole of Greater Sydney.
    • In land release areas, planning is to identify a range of centre types, including large and small local centres which could grow and evolve into new strategic centres and planning should maximise the number and capacity of centres on existing or planned mass transit corridors. To deliver this latter outcome, centres need to be identified early to allow their incorporation into transport infrastructure plans.
    • In the Western Parkland City, where South Creek is to be planned as the central organising element for the city, opportunities for new centres to address South Creek are to be maximised.
    • In established areas, innovative approaches to creating new centres are likely to be part of urban renewal and mixed-use developments.
    • All new centres are to have good public transport commensurate with the scale of the centre.
  • Business parks: Not all centres will start as retail centres. Creating jobs and providing services to local communities can be initiated within business parks. However, the built form of these business parks is critical - that is, they need to be developed from the outset as urban places which can transition into higher amenity and vibrant places while maintaining their main role as an employment precinct. Councils' retail and employment strategies should provide guidance on the transition of business parks into mixed employment precincts including, where appropriate, ancillary residential developments to support the business park.
  • New health and tertiary education facilities such as hospitals and community health centres: These should be located within or directly adjacent to centres, and ideally co-located with supporting transport infrastructure. In some cases, health and education facilities may be the anchor of a new centre. Built form is critical to facilitate the transition of centres with health and education uses into more mature innovation precincts. A mix of retail and other services including hotel-type accommodation adjacent to the precinct should be supported.
  • Clusters of large format retail should be treated as part of the retail network, and planning for new clusters of large format retail should be done in the same way other new centres are planned. This includes ensuring centres are places that can grow and evolve over time, and have adequate access to transport services and quality public domains.

Increases in online ordering and home delivery means some retail is essentially a distribution centre. These 'dark retail' stores are most suited to industrial areas as they involve significant logistics support and do not require community access.

Where there is a prevalence of retail activities in an industrial area, there may be exceptional circumstances which warrant the development of a new centre. This should be informed by a net community benefit test supported by a strategic review of centres (which identifies the need for the centre) and an industrial land review (which identifies that the loss of industrial activity can be managed) for the local government area. These reviews to be prepared by councils, and endorsed by the Greater Sydney Commission.

In such cases, the centre should be:

  • located where public transport services are commensurate with the scale of the centre
  • directly opposite a residential catchment accessible by a controlled pedestrian crossing
  • more than a standalone supermarket
  • of quality urban design with amenity, informed by a masterplan
  • supported by planned and funded infrastructure commensurate with the needs of the centre.

For new centres in industrial areas, the economic impact of the centre should be assessed for its effect on the operation of existing businesses in the locality and the viability of surrounding centres.

Planning for new and existing centres is to:

  • be informed by council growth strategies which should consider the network of centres, retail, commercial and industrial supply; and demand and local housing strategies
  • be potentially informed by district-based studies, facilitated by collaborations between councils
  • consider the temporal nature of growth and change across Greater Sydney, both historic and future, and its influence on development opportunities at the local level
  • recognise improvements to walkability as a core outcome for change in centres
  • result in the development and implementation of land use and infrastructure plans to inform infrastructure investment and land use policy decisions
  • respond to the detailed planning considerations of Strategy 12.1 and Strategy 22.1 in A Metropolis of Three Cities.
Photograph of people dining at outdoor restaurant in Rouse Hill

Rouse Hill


Blacktown offers a variety of business, retail, mixed-use residential and administrative functions that create vibrancy and attract investment, employment and diversity of housing. It also includes a range of community and cultural facilities such as the Blacktown Arts Centre and Library. Blacktown Station is the confluence of the Western and Richmond Rail Lines, and the North West Transitway connects it with The Hills.

Blacktown City Council has a range of initiatives that seek to shape the future of Blacktown City Centre. These include the redevelopment of the Warrick Lane Precinct, securing a university campus for Blacktown, facilitating development of the health and education precinct and developing an office accommodation strategy for council's future.

Blacktown Hospital and Clinical School form part of the District's health facilities and specialist services. The expansion of Blacktown Hospital will make it the third-largest public hospital in NSW, generating more than 5,000 new jobs. It is also a major teaching hospital for medical students at Western Sydney University. The health and education precinct provides opportunities for a private hospital and associated specialist medical services that support practitioners, students and patients. TAFE NSW Western Sydney and potential future tertiary education institutions could focus on innovative sports and health science. These investments have the potential to grow the centre as an emerging health and education precinct.

Blacktown Jobs
2016 estimate 13,200
2036 baseline target 17,000
2036 higher target 19,500

Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018

Download this image central_blacktown.jpg (format JPG / 842 KB )
Photograph of building in Blacktown


Castle Hill

Castle Hill provides retail and community services to a large population catchment in Greater Sydney's north west. A future Sydney Metro Northwest station will provide the opportunity for commercial developments and greater proportion of knowledgeintensive jobs.

Future Transport 2056 will provide enhanced city-serving transport connections between Castle Hill and Greater Parramatta to support future connections in the area.

Castle Hill Jobs
2016 estimate 9,800
2036 baseline target 16,000
2036 higher target 19,500

Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018

Download this image central_castle_hill.jpg (format JPG / 825 KB )


Epping is 10 kilometres north east of Parramatta and about four kilometres west of Macquarie University and Macquarie Park. It already benefits from excellent public transport and will be serviced by three major rail lines once Sydney Metro Northwest is operational.

Future Transport 2056 identifies a mass transit connection between Parramatta and Epping for investigation. Increased public transport and the centre's proximity to GPOP and existing employment areas set the potential for Epping to grow into a centre with a more diverse range of activities, including commercial uses.

Planning for local infrastructure - including improved roads, new or upgraded schools, open space and recreational facilities - will inform the City of Parramatta Council's Epping Planning Review process.

Epping Jobs
2016 estimate 5,100
2036 baseline target 7,000
2036 higher target 7,500

Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018

Download this image central_epping.jpg (format JPG / 634 KB )

Marsden Park

Marsden Park is an emerging strategic centre and the largest employment zone in the North West Growth Area.

The Marsden Park Industrial Precinct was rezoned in 2010 predominantly for employment uses and some medium density residential zones. The 2010 Indicative Layout Plan identifies Marsden Park town centre to the north of Schofields Road/South Street.

In 2012, the NSW Government preserved a transport corridor from Cudgegong Road to Schofields and Marsden Park. A Metropolis of Three Cities identifies the need to investigate a potential north-south train link connection from Cudgegong Road to Campbelltown- Macarthur linking Western Sydney Airport and Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis to economic nodes such as Sydney Science Park, St Marys, Marsden Park and Rouse Hill in the north, as well as Oran Park, Narellan and Campbelltown- Macarthur.

These transport plans warrant a review of the vision and the strategic role of Marsden Park in contributing to the growth of the Western Parkland City.

To maximise the benefits of increased transport accessibility with a potential mass transit stop in Marsden Park, planning must allow flexibility for greater land use diversity and encourage higher value economic and employment activities. This must be supported by increased walking cycling opportunities and a high quality public domain.

Marsden Park has experienced rapid transformation in recent years. Planning and investment must enable this momentum to continue.

Marsden Park Jobs
2016 estimate 1,600
2036 baseline target 5,000
2036 higher target 10,000

Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018

Download this image central_marsden_park.jpg (format JPG / 722 KB )

Mount Druitt

Mount Druitt is home to retail and services, industrial uses, Mount Druitt Hospital and TAFE. Its broader catchment includes a high concentration of social housing and communities with socio-economic disadvantage. Unemployment is a major challenge.

With better transport access, public domain and amenity improvements and increasing connectivity across the rail corridor, Mount Druitt can provide better employment and services for local communities.

Mount Druitt Jobs
2016 estimate 6,700
2036 baseline target 8,000
2036 higher target 8,500

Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018

Download this image central_mount_druitt.jpg (format JPG / 1,017 KB )


Norwest Business Park is an established commercial centre. Sydney Metro Northwest and the new station at Norwest will provide the opportunity to transform the traditional 1990s-style business park model into a transit-oriented, more vibrant and diversified centre with higher employment densities and a mix of residential uses and supporting services.

Sydney Metro Northwest will also enable faster and more reliable business-to-business connections to other centres such as Macquarie Park.

Norwest Jobs
2016 estimate 32,400
2036 baseline target 49,000
2036 higher target 53,000

Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018

Download this image central_norwest.jpg (format JPG / 3,918 KB )

Rouse Hill

Rouse Hill provides retail and community services to a large population catchment in Sydney's north west. A future Sydney Metro Northwest station will provide the opportunity for commercial developments and a greater proportion of knowledge-intensive jobs. A new health service for Rouse Hill will grow the health and education sector and associated services. Road congestion and access to surrounding centres such as Parramatta must be addressed.

Rouse Hill Jobs
2016 estimate 4,200
2036 baseline target 10,000
2036 higher target 11,000

Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018

Download this image central_rouse_hill.jpg (format JPG / 992 KB )

Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney Olympic Park provides worldclass sporting and event venues and residential, commercial and recreational activities. Over the next 20 years, the area will develop into a lifestyle precinct, offering the potential to attract anchor tenants specialising in sports, health and physical education.

The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW supports Sydney Olympic Park with its connections to food and family events. This creates the potential for Sydney Olympic Park to be a go-to destination for a great outdoor fresh food and organics market, with a program of pop-up events.

Sydney Olympic Park requires a total transport solution, including walking and cycling connections, integrated with land use planning. Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 and Sydney Metro West will significantly increase accessibility and contribute to achieving the job targets.

Through the GPOP growth infrastructure compact pilot, the Commission will work with Sydney Olympic Park Authority and other stakeholders to coordinate infrastructure delivery.

Sydney Olympic Park Jobs
2016 estimate 31,100
2036 baseline target 45,000
2036 higher target 46,500

Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018

Download this image central_sydney_olympic_park.jpg (format JPG / 867 KB )

Provide access to jobs, goods and services in centres by:

a. attracting significant investment and business activity in strategic centres to provide jobs growth
b. diversifying the range of activities in all centres
c. creating vibrant, safe places and a quality public realm
d. focusing on a human-scale public realm and locally accessible open space
e. balancing the efficient movement of people and goods with supporting the liveability of places on the road network
f. improving the walkability within and to centres
g. completing and improving a safe and connected cycling network to and within centres
h. improving public transport services to all strategic centres
i. conserving and interpreting heritage significance
j. designing parking that can be adapted to future uses
k. providing for a diverse and vibrant night-time economy in a way that responds to potential negative impacts
l. creating the conditions for residential development within strategic centres and within walking distance (up to 10 minutes), but not at the expense of the attraction and growth of jobs, retailing and services; where appropriate, strategic centres should define commercial cores informed by an assessment of their need.

Blacktown, Cumberland, Parramatta and The Hills councils, other planning authorities, and infrastructure agencies


Create new centres in accordance with the Principles for Greater Sydney's Centres.

Blacktown, Cumberland, Parramatta and The Hills councils, other planning authorities, and infrastructure agencies


Prioritise strategic land use and infrastructure plans for growing centres, particularly those with capacity for additional retail floor space.

Blacktown, Cumberland, Parramatta and The Hills councils, other planning authorities, and infrastructure agencies


Strengthen Blacktown through approaches that:

a. protect the commercial core to achieve the centre's job targets and reinforce the ring road network
b. improve pedestrian connectivity, particularly across the Western Railway Line
c. reinforce and capitalise on the health and education activities located in the Blacktown health and education precinct
d. manage land around the hospital so as not to preclude future expansion of the hospital and/or co-location of a tertiary education facility
e. deliver ancillary uses which add value to the health and education facilities, including residential, aged care facilities, visitor accommodation, health and medical research activities, non-critical patient care and commercial uses which will be complementary to and help to revitalise the health precinct
f. improve wayfinding within the centre
g. promote advanced manufacturing, research and innovation in the Blacktown business park

Blacktown City Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen  Castle  Hill  through  approaches  that:

a. provide capacity to achieve the centre's job targets
b. align State priorities for expenditure on regional roads, schools and utilities to support growth forecasts and to address current deficits
c. complete the upgrade of Showground Road and the Castle Hill Ring Road system
d. develop public domain plans to enhance identified pedestrian linkages to the future Castle Hill transport hub.

The Hills Shire Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Continue the review of planning controls for the Epping Town Centre in collaboration with State agencies.

City of Parramatta Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen Marsden Park through approaches that:

a. facilitate a variety of activities that meet the needs of the residents of the western part of the North West Growth Area
b. establish the potential station location to ensure transport access supports the development of the town centre
c. work with NSW Government to identify a corridor west of Marsden Park town centre to extend the public transport network to Western Sydney Airport
d. integrate the Marsden Park Industrial Precinct with the town centre, including walking and cycling connections

Blacktown City Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen Mount Druitt through approaches that:

a. improve connectivity to employment opportunities in the Western Sydney Employment Area, the Western Sydney Airport and Marsden Park
b. improve accessibility to and within the centre, including connections and wayfinding between Mount Druitt Hospital, railway station and bus interchange
c. reinforce the important role of the centre in providing social support services to communities in the broader Mount Druitt area.
d. reinforce the important role of the centre in providing social support services to the disadvantage communities in the broader Mount Druitt area.

Blacktown City Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen Norwest through approaches that:

a. retain and grow commercial capacity to achieve the centre's job targets
b. encourage complementary retail services around Norwest Lake and the station precinct

The Hills Shire Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Work with NSW Government to identify a potential future corridor for mass transit links to Greater Parramatta.

The Hills Shire Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen Rouse Hill through approaches that:

a. investigate opportunities for future expansion of the centre
b. enhance pedestrian and cycleway linkages, particularly across Windsor Road
c. promote complementary business uses on land adjacent to the Rouse Hill town centre
d. leverage government owned land around Caddies Creek to provide additional active sporting opportunities.

The Hills Shire Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen Sydney Olympic Park through approaches that:

a. explore opportunities to attract public and private sports, health and physical education and tertiary education facilities as anchor tenants to activate the Sydney Olympic Park town centre
b. coordinate land use and infrastructure planning around the future for Stage 2 and Sydney Metro West stations at Olympic Park.

City of Parramatta Council, other planning authorities and State agencies