Property and Infrastructure Specialists

Digesting Sydney's Draft District Plans (Part 3): Hot Spots for Investment and Development

In Part 1 and 2 of this series, we considered the implications for property owners and businesses in the Greater Sydney Commission’s (GSC) Draft District Plans. In this final installment we look at the opportunities that exist and the significant implications for the development and construction sectors in outlining those areas of Sydney where the GSC has targeted the majority of the city’s future growth in housing and new jobs.
Digesting Sydney's Draft District Plans (Part 3): Hot Spots for Investment and Development

Recapping what we know so far

1. The GSC model outlines a city of six districts, each with a unique character and function. These new districts are centred on the ideology of a tri-city model, including the new Western Sydney City Aerotropolis.

2. Varying geographies and specialised economies characterise the different districts of Sydney, and have the capacity to shape the social and economic needs of each.

3. The Western Sydney Airport and growing business parks have been earmarked to accommodate new ‘smart’ businesses and provide for future job growth.

4. The current rate of housing development is likely to be maintained for the foreseeable future, slowly correcting an historic undersupply. 

Digesting Sydney's Draft District Plans (Part 3): Hot Spots for Investment and Development

Greenfield Vs Brownfield

With so much happening across the city, and with so much content to digest in the plans, it’s become increasingly difficult for savvy investors to know where to invest in the property sector. The District Plans target future growth in both the release areas (greenfield) and within the established (brownfield) parts of the metropolitan area (i.e. urban infill) which is similar to the strategic visions developed as part of the preceding Sydney Metropolitan Plans.

New land release areas have seen increasingly high demand, and represent a key opportunity for both commercial and residential investors. Regions such as the South West Priority Growth Area act as cornerstones of the NSW Government’s greenfield strategy, and are backed by considerable investment in transport infrastructure like the Western Sydney Airport, the M9 Motorway announcement and the future M12 Motorway. 

Digesting Sydney's Draft District Plans (Part 3): Hot Spots for Investment and Development

The Greater Macarthur Growth Area

The Greater MacArthur Priority Area has been earmarked as a focus for strategic investigation by Councils, the Department of Planning and Environment and the GSC. The area is being considered for substantial growth supported by transport infrastructure investments to improve accessibility throughout the Macarthur region, examining in particular future bypass connections to the Hume Highway. The areas around Wilton and Picton which have been long suggested as being capable of supporting future housing release areas have also been brought into the foreground under the South West District Plan.

Greater Parramatta and Olympic Peninsula

Considerable attention has also been given to high priority areas in the Greater Parramatta and Olympic Peninsula (GPOP) and Bays Precinct. With planned government investment in the Parramatta Light Rail, Sydney Metro West and new CDB bus routes, centres throughout these areas are targeted to become hubs of local economic activity.

Investment in the Strategic Centres

Other strategic centres like Kogarah, Norwest and Liverpool are expected to receive additional support for both residential and commercial development. These have each demonstrated high labour productivity and are classed as important employment and urban services lands.

Demand for housing on the peripheries of the strategic centres is likely with people wanting to reside close to their places of employment. Like many established centres, there is always the risk of an apartment ‘glut’, so further research on surrounding developments is essential.

Health & Education Mega-Precincts

The development of health and education precincts features strongly in the District Plans. With large health facilities proposed for St Leonards, Randwick and the Northern Beaches Hospital Precinct, there is undoubtedly significant motivation for investment in these precincts. The District Plans emphasise the growth of education hubs, which are seen as economic anchors for strategic centres such as Greater Parramatta, Penrith and Macquarie Park. 

Digesting Sydney's Draft District Plans (Part 3): Hot Spots for Investment and Development

Key Pointers for the Development Sector

It seems that everybody working in Sydney nowadays is in a role which is in some way connected to the booming construction and development sectors. Whether you are in finance, government, consultancy or real estate, the stability of these sectors is paramount for all Sydneysiders. The District Plans have highlighted significant opportunities, which can be unlocked to serve the interests of these sectors and reinvigorate different areas of Sydney.

While we have recently witnessed the largest housing boom in Sydney’s history, not all of these new developments have positively contributed to our social or environmental settings. In fact, the focus and drive towards investment in residential apartments has opened the door for many fly-by-night developers’ that scar the city’s landscape with below-par skyscrapers, many of which are scattered across the greater west with no direct or regular access to services or transport. As such, the District Plans discuss the need to provide design-led planning to support high quality urban design and renewal.

Stable Housing Growth and the Missing Middle

The plans have placed a greater emphasis on stabilising growth whilst also drawing the focus away from skyscrapers and back towards mid-rise and multi-dwelling developments as the answer to the city’s future housing demands. Quality and not quantity is the subtle message from the GSC and this is reflected in the media releases connected to the ‘Missing Middle’ and indeed within the objectives of the plans themselves.

The ‘Missing Middle’ refers to the disproportionately low amount of medium density housing currently being provided in NSW. It is flagged as particularly useful for infill development, filling the gaps currently evident in transition areas located between high density urban renewal precincts and existing low density suburban housing. Local centres within 5km of key transport links are highlighted as opportunity areas in the plans. The NSW Government is also showing an increasing willingness to accommodate this type of housing in greenfield estates. Formerly the domain of conventional, low density housing, terraces and attached dwellings are favoured in areas of higher amenity and within walking distance to bus stops and train stations.

Digesting Sydney's Draft District Plans (Part 3): Hot Spots for Investment and Development

For developers, the opportunities are endless and Sydney is open for business, more so now than ever. Our message to clients in the development and construction sectors is simple; don’t be discouraged by talks of doom and gloom, the demand for high quality builds and considered projects in strategically positioned areas is there and it is substantial.

More broadly, the Department of Planning and the GSC have grand visions in mind for reforming the NSW planning system which will have significant implications for project delivery, certainty and reducing approval timeframes. The District Plans are a significant step in this mammoth task and bring about exciting opportunities for investors and developers alike.

How can we help?

We have extensive experience in the planning and delivery of large developments and our specialist consultants and property experts can help you navigate the myriad or opportunities available.

The District Plans are on exhibition until the end of March 2017. You can have your say directly at or better yet, let us put together a submission on your behalf. For further information contact Josh Owen or Kye Sanderson.