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Growing investment, business opportunities and jobs in strategic centres

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Planning Priority W11

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 at train stations.

The growth, innovation and evolution of centres will underpin the economy of the Western City District. Centres continue to be a key organising element of the urban structure of Greater Sydney and provide an important role in providing access to jobs, goods and services. Well-planned centres help to stimulate economic activity and innovation through the colocation of activities, provide jobs closer to where people live and use infrastructure more efficiently.

This Plan builds on the strengths of each centre within a common framework to grow jobs across Greater Sydney and improve the communities' access to good and services. To manage the growth and change of the District's centres, a centres hierarchy has been established as outlined below:

  • metropolitan cluster: Liverpool, Greater Penrith and Campbelltown-Macarthur, Western Sydney Airport and Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis (refer to Planning Priority W9)
  • strategic centres: St Marys, Katoomba, RichmondWindsor, Fairfield, Leppington and Narellan
  • local centres: (refer to Planning Priority W6).

All strategic centres will be the focus of public transport investments that seek to deliver a 30-minute city (refer to Planning Priority W7).

The strategic centres in the Western City District differ in size and scale of economic activity. However, as strategic centres they all have similar characteristics, 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 and walkability and being cycle friendly
  • areas identified for commercial uses, and where appropriate, commercial cores.

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 encroaching on 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 places for economic exchange. They are where communities gather, and recreational, cultural and educational pursuits are found. They are an important part of how people participate in community life.

Delivering housing within a walkable distance of strategic centres encourages non-vehicle trips, which also fosters healthier communities. Housing within centres contributes to a sense of vibrancy. However; delivery of housing should not constrain the ongoing operation and expansion of commercial and retail activities. A place-based approach is to be adopted in planning for strategic and local centres (refer to Planning Priority W6).

Research has shown that the Western City District will need to accommodate more than 1.54 million square metres of additional retail floor space over the next 20 years. In addition, there will be significant demand for additional office floor space20. Creating the opportunities to attract retail and office development locally brings jobs closer to where people live. This requires growth in either existing or new centres. The principles for developing new centres are outlined in this Planning Priority. The Department of Planning and Environment will prepare a state-wide retail planning policy.

Smart work hubs offer the conveniences of a modern office - high-speed Internet, meeting rooms, video conferencing facilities, informal lounges and quiet booths - in local areas. They operate as shared workspaces for small businesses, government and corporate organisations. There are smart work hubs at Penrith and Oran Park. Opportunities for smart work hubs in strategic centres should be encouraged.

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 anticipated growth. They should not be seen as maximum targets.

The lower end of the range of these job targets reflects the baseline of projected jobs growth 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.

As the District grows and develops, the need for new strategic centres may emerge and some local centres may grow in scale and regional significance. New strategic and local centres will be designed to meet the needs of new communities developed in line with the principles for Greater Sydney's centres.

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; 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 (refer to Objective 21 in A Metropolis of Three Cities).
  • 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 are 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 stand-alone supermarket
  • of quality urban design with amenity, informed by a master plan
  • 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 impact 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 set out in A Metropolis of Three Cities.
Photograph of cars parked along Macquarie Mall, Liverpool

Macquarie Mall, Liverpool (Liverpool Council)


Fairfield City Centre has the largest concentration of commercial office, retail and community services floor space per person in the local government area. Its unique commercial and retail focus is driven by local culture, including main street and bazaar-style shops and services.

There is opportunity to create more spaces for business start-ups and social enterprise; grow the centre's culturally specialised services including translation, retraining new arrivals, and health care; and develop its authentic cultural food and night-time economy.

Fairfield Park, a significant open space and leisure precinct, including a gymnasium and aquatic centre; Fairfield Youth and Community Centre; and Fairfield Adventure Park are within reach of Fairfield City Centre and transport interchange. This interchange integrates into the Greater Sydney Green Grid via an extensive walking and cycling network along creek lines extending from Chipping Norton Lakes to Western Sydney Parklands.

Maintaining housing affordability for existing residents, and increasing the number of affordable rental units to welcome new residents will be a challenge into the future. Fairfield City Council is undertaking an urban design study for the redevelopment and revitalisation of key sites within the city centre. One of the core objectives of the study is to unlock additional housing potential close to public transport, open space and services, making use of the centre's strong connections to Liverpool and Parramatta.

Fairfield Jobs
2016 estimate 5,400
2036 baseline target 6,000
2036 higher target 8,000
"An aerial image of Fairfield.  Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018."

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

Download this image western_fairfield.png (format PNG / 2,100 KB )


Katoomba is a significant tourist destination, with associated employment opportunities. Within the 'City of the Arts', Katoomba draws on its unique heritage, arts and cultural activities, supported by a Cultural Centre and World Heritage exhibition. Katoomba has a transport interchange and a diverse mix of uses, including commercial, retail, health and education facilities. The centre provides services for the local community and includes large employers such as Blue Mountains City Council and Blue Mountains Hospital. There are opportunities to build on the centre's assets to promote economic activity and consolidate Katoomba's revitalisation.

Katoomba Jobs
2016 estimate 2,700
2036 baseline target 3,000
2036 higher target 5,500
"An aerial image of Katoomba.  Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018."

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

Download this image western_katoomba.png (format PNG / 3,518 KB )


Leppington is a designated Planned Precinct. The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is working with Camden and Liverpool City councils to undertake the planning of the new centre on the T2 Inner West and Leppington and T5 Cumberland lines. Leppington Station serves a catchment covering precincts such as Leppington, Leppington East, Austral and Edmondson Park within the South West and Western Sydney Airport Growth Areas. With Bringelly Road to serves as one of the major gateways to the Western Sydney Airport, Leppington is expected to be a prominent town centre in the future.

Leppington Jobs
2016 estimate 400
2036 baseline target 7,000
2036 higher target 12,500
"An aerial image of Leppington.  Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018."

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

Download this image western_leppington.png (format PNG / 1,628 KB )


The Narellan town centre is transitioning to provide all of the services and facilities that a community needs, including employment opportunities in a range of industries, services and professions. It has potential for increased residential density and a range of dwelling typologies.

Narellan has potential for increased commercial office, retail and community services. The vision of the Narellan town centre will reflect the history and heritage of the Camden Local Government Area, while providing opportunities for the growing community

Narellan Jobs
2016 estimate 10,600
2036 baseline target 14,000
2036 higher target 16,500
"An aerial image of Narellan.  Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018."

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

Download this image western_narellan.png (format PNG / 1,832 KB )


Richmond and Windsor are two of the five original Macquarie Towns, established in December 1810. They are located upstream of the 20 original Macquarie Farms also established in 1810. Richmond-Windsor's role and function has traditionally been to provide accommodation and services to support a rural population and agricultural activity.

Over time, the role of the centre has expanded to include retail and commercial services and major health facilities including the Notre Dame University medical teaching campus. The centre has significant heritage values including some of the oldest buildings in Australia and an emerging tourism base focused on colonial history, rural character, agriculture, environmental assets including the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area and the Hawkesbury River.

Located at Clarendon is a cluster of aviation, University, TAFE and equine activities.

Over 450 aerospace workers work within the precinct, including the Royal Australian Air Force, United States Air Force, Northrop, Airbus Group Australia Pacific, Lockheed Martin, Standard Aero, GEAviation, L3 Aviation Products and CAE.

The Western Sydney University Hawkesbury Campus, the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment and the Hawkesbury Racing Club contribute significantly to employment research and training in the area.

Richmond-Windsor Jobs
2016 estimate 10,300
2036 baseline target 12,000
2036 higher target 16,500
"An aerial image of Richmond-Windsor.  Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018."

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

Download this image western_richmond-windsor.png (format PNG / 3,037 KB )

St Marys

St Marys has a mix of jobs, commercial and retail activities, with industrial and urban services land north of the rail line. The town centre with retail, commercial and residential uses is located south of the rail line. There has been recent growth in apartment living opportunities in and around the centre.

St Marys Jobs
2016 estimate 8,300
2036 baseline target 10,000
2036 higher target 11,500
"An aerial image of St Marys.  Data sources: Public open space - Sydney Open Space Audit (DPE 2016), aerial photo - Nearmap 2018."

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

Download this image western_st_marys.png (format PNG / 1,301 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.

Councils, other planning authorities and State agencies


Create new centres in line with the principles for Greater Sydney's centres.

Councils and other planning authorities


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

Councils and other planning authorities


Encourage opportunities for new smart work hubs.

Councils and other planning authorities


Review current planning controls and create capacity to achieve the job targets for the District's strategic centres.

Councils and other planning authorities


Strengthen Fairfield through approaches that:

a. investigate opportunities for feasible redevelopment and increased density close to the Fairfield Transport Interchange
b. enhance the public realm and encourage new connected civic plazas and public open spaces, including better walking and cycling links to nearby Fairfield Park and Prospect Creek corridor
c. build on the emerging concentration of multicultural support services and support the current business and legal sector
d. increase the liveability of the centre by activating the public realm, including developing the vision for an 'eat street' and growing the night-time economy
e. facilitate the attraction of office/commercial floor space and allow for innovation including smart work hubs
f. improve east-west connectivity within Fairfield City Centre from surrounding suburbs prioritising pedestrian, cycle and public transport facilities
g. encourage car sharing and carpooling opportunities.

Fairfield City Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen Katoomba through approaches that:

a. encourage new lifestyle and entertainment uses to activate streets and grow the tourism and night-time economies
b. facilitate the attraction of office/commercial floor space and provide opportunities to allow commercial and retail activities to innovate, including smart work hubs
c. enhance the public realm
d. activate secondary streets.

Blue Mountains City Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen Leppington through approaches that:

a. develop a masterplan for the Leppington town centre in collaboration with Camden and Liverpool City Councils, stakeholders and the community
b. coordinate the release and rezoning of land for residential, employment and other urban development in Leppington town centre in accordance with the State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Region Growth Centres) 2006 and to support the District's housing and job targets
c. coordinate and deliver enabling infrastructure to support future development.

NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Camden Council, Liverpool City Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen Narellan through approaches that:

a. investigate the capacity of key infrastructure to support additional growth
b. undertake an Urban Design Review for the Centre and review planning controls
c. review the vision for the Narellan Centre.

Camden Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen Richmond-Windsor through approaches that:

a. support complementary land uses around the agglomeration of education and defence uses in Richmond
b. support master planning processes for Richmond and Windsor that encourage new lifestyle and entertainment uses, employment opportunities, activate streets and places, grow the tourism economy and respect and enhance the significant heritage value and assets
c. facilitate the attraction of office/commercial floor space and provide opportunities to allow commercial and retail activities to innovate, including smart work hubs.

Hawkesbury City Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Strengthen St Marys through approaches that:

a. review and maximise opportunities from its location at the intersection of the north-south and east-west corridors
b. support the role of St Marys as a centre by enabling a mix of land uses to encourage a diverse and active night-time economy
c. facilitate the attraction of a range of uses that contribute to an active and vibrant place
d. improve transport connectivity and walkability within and to St Marys
e. support greater housing diversity and densities
f. activate primary and secondary streets and deliver contemporary urban public spaces
g. support and demonstrate innovation.

Penrith City Council, other planning authorities and State agencies