Community consultation: Aerotropolis SEPP on display

Large reductions to the size of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis' open space network and environment and recreation zone are part of the proposed changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) now on public exhibition - a display exhibiting an "incomplete package" according to Liverpool Council.

The revised open space network for the Aerotropolis, which is the area surrounding the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport, will see 16 per cent of land in the initial precincts (869 hectares) acquired for parks and public spaces.

Under the proposed SEPP amendments, the environment and recreation zone at Wianamatta-South Creek will be reduced by a third and a rural zoning re-applied.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes planning a new city is an "incredibly complex" task.

"...And this process proves that nothing is finalised without community consultation," Mr Stokes said.

"We've listened to the community and the recommendations of the Independent Community Commissioner Professor Roberta Ryan, and reduced the amount of land earmarked for open space or an environment and recreation zoning.

"We will still achieve our vision for a Western Parkland City under these proposed changes, while allowing landowners to continue using their property as they do now. This means fewer properties needing to be acquired while still ensuring 95 per cent of homes in the Aerotropolis will be within five-minutes' walk of open space."

The Property Council's Western Sydney Regional Director Ross Grove said the government's proposal reflects a "more realistic and practical vision" for the Aerotropolis.

"...And takes into account that employment precincts don't have the same open space needs as developments that have higher levels of housing," Mr Grove said.

"This is a positive move, but if the Aerotropolis is to be taken seriously as a destination for investment, the industry will need the requirement for architectural design competitions for sheds and factories to be removed.

"We also need to start bringing forward clear timetables for supporting infrastructure. We're looking forward to seeing delivery timelines for upgrading Elizabeth Drive, along with key decisions regarding major water infrastructure and utilities. We have major utility corridors which need to be delivered, and we look forward to partnering with government to bring this forward where we can.

"We note the Phase 2 Development Control Plan is also on exhibition, and we look forward to cautiously combing through this new document, which marks a transformation in expectations away from box-ticking to performance measuring and assessment."

Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller said "utter transparency" was needed and called on the state government to hold off the exhibition until the detail that underpins the package is clarified. Together with Penrith Council, Liverpool Council have highlighted key details relating to the planning of the Aerotropolis are missing which include infrastructure, stormwater, development contribution plans and master planning guidelines.

They say the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment have repeatedly rejected the councils' combined request to delay the exhibition to clarify the gaps ahead of the public exhibition. The councils have also expressed concern on the short timeframe for community consultation which limits the ability to provide a thorough response and meaningful feedback.

"It goes without saying that the community should have a voice, however we believe that exhibiting an incomplete package to garner feedback will mean the community is not getting the full picture of how this new city will be planned, built and maintained moving forward," said Ms Waller, who agrees with the findings and recommendation from the Independent Community Commissioner.

Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres said the future Aerotropolis won't just be a great place to work and do business, it will also be home to some of Sydney's best parks.

"The feedback from the community has created a better balanced Aerotropolis plan, that will create more jobs closer to where people live and ensure a green network of parks in the parkland city," he said.

Werriwa MP Anne Stanley said the changes were a "massive win" for the community and for the individual landowners who were subject to uncertainty for too long.

"Following the state government's admission of failure with the original planning, I welcome these changes. However, it must not be forgotten that the concerns of the landowners should have been answered from day one," she said.

"The landowners were not treated with due dignity and respect by this State Liberal Government and have suffered months on end without knowing what the future would hold for them.

"I am proud of everyone in my community who made a submission to the Independent Community Commissioner, and I commend the landowners on the work they have put in over the last two years."

Liverpool councillor Nathan Hagarty said: "This is a sensible set of changes and will provide some welcome relief for landowners. There is still plenty of work to be done to ensure the state government follows through on this commitment. We also need timely and adequately funded land acquisitions."

The public exhibition includes proposed changes to the Aerotropolis SEPP, the draft Phase 2 Development Control Plan and the Luddenham Village Discussion Paper. Submissions will be accepted from  October 8 until November 5.