Sydney ‘airport city’ decades away with planning delays

Samantha Lock |

The Western Sydney Airport will likely take decades to reach completion.
The Western Sydney Airport will likely take decades to reach completion.

One of the largest infrastructure and building projects in the country could be under construction for the next 50 years.

The blueprint for Sydney’s newest city – to be built on the doorstep of a 24-hour international airport – has been revealed, though it will likely take decades to reach completion.

The draft master plan for the Bradfield city centre, which includes a pool, a central park, 10,000 new homes and tree-lined pedestrian only streets, was unveiled by the NSW government on Monday.

The Western Sydney Airport city centre will include 80 buildings up to 15 storeys high. (Flavio Brancaleone/AAP PHOTOS)

But industry and local representatives say construction of the city hub will not keep pace with the scheduled opening of the Western Sydney Airport and metro in 2026.

Business Western Sydney chief executive and former state Labor housing minister David Borger said the government had been too slow to release land for use and was falling behind states like Victoria and Queensland, where it was cheaper and easier to build.

The delays have frustrated dozens of freight and logistics companies who signed memorandums of understanding up to seven years ago but were still waiting for work to commence.

“They want to get cracking,” Mr Borger told AAP.

“We have all the ingredients to make things move quickly.” 

Planning Minister Paul Scully defended the speed of work, saying the decades-long development was “not the sort of thing that pops up overnight”.

“This is a once-in-a-100-years city development, a once-in-a-100-year master plan, and we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing that right,” he told reporters.

The new 114-hectare city centre will include 80 buildings at heights of up to 15 storeys, providing 10,000 homes and scope for 20,000 workers.

“While the master plan says that it’s a 50-year time horizon for this complete city to come out of the ground, I think you’ll find that it happens a whole lot quicker than that,” Mr Scully said. 

Western Parkland City Authority chair Jennifer Westacott added the planning system in NSW was complex but the government was working hard to speed up development.

Liverpool Council mayor Ned Mannoun, whose local government area incorporates the new city, said investment in critical surrounding infrastructure such as roads, water and drainage had so far been ignored.

He also criticised the “1940s” transport links from existing roads in nearby suburbs, where tens of thousands of new homes were due to be built.

“It is pointless having scores of new homes if people leave their homes and are then stuck in traffic for hours on end,” Mr Mannoun said. 

“You simply cannot build a new urban city with 80 new buildings in isolation without planning and resourcing the connectivity to southwest Sydney.”

Ross Grove, from the Property Council of Australia, said there was “unprecedented tenant interest” in western Sydney industrial land, but a semi-rural road network, insufficient zoned and serviced land and difficulties in relocating premises were holding businesses back.

He urged the government to upgrade key roads to ensure the airport was surrounded by a “thriving industrial, freight and logistics precinct – rather than the cow paddocks that exist today”.