Key takeaways

  • NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) will have a greater role in the rezoning process for key, strategic priority precincts.
  • Local councils are expected to benefit from increased collaboration with NSW Government agencies and a more consistent infrastructure planning framework to deliver rezoning proposals and precincts.
  • However, for some precincts, the transition of responsibilities between State and local council planning bodies may result in delays.


In November 2019, the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, announced the NSW Government’s new approach for precinct planning in Greater Sydney. The Minister stated that the new precinct planning framework would clear the decks of planning proposals stuck in the system, refocus the State’s planning efforts and empower local councils to plan strategically.

This new precinct planning framework follows a review of the ‘Priority Precinct’ planning process by DPIE together with the Greater Sydney Commission and NSW Government Architect.

The new precinct planning framework will transition the existing 51 priority precincts into one of the four new precincts planning pathways set out below. The new pathways will sit alongside the strategic planning for the Aerotropolis.

New precinct planning pathways

1. ‘Strategic Planning’ pathway

DPIE will lead high-level strategic planning for precincts subject to this pathway. In addition, DPIE will consult with local councils, NSW Government agencies and the community in developing the future rezoning process for these precincts.

For this pathway, relevant precincts identified by DPIE include Western Sydney Employment Area, Macquarie Park, Westmead and the North West Growth Area.

2. ‘Collaborative Planning’ pathway

DPIE will play a co-ordination role to facilitate collaboration with local council and NSW Government agencies. As a general rule, rezoning under the collaborative planning pathway will be implemented by Council. DPIE will only implement rezoning in special circumstances.

For this pathway, relevant precincts identified by DPIE include Pyrmont, Seven Hills, North Westmead, South Westmead and Bays West.

3. ‘State-led Rezoning’ pathway

DPIE will lead rezoning in consultation with local councils and communities where there is a strategic imperative to do so, including precincts with current or future city-shaping infrastructure or investment.

For this pathway, relevant precincts identified by DPIE include Bays Market District, Rhodes, Central Station SSP, Marsden Park North, Frenchs Forest and Cherrybrook.

4. ‘Council-led Rezoning’ pathway

Rezoning for existing precincts which fall under this pathway will be led solely by local councils. DPIE will continue to offer support to local councils and the community in the rezoning process.

For this pathway, relevant precincts identified by DPIE include Elizabeth Street Redfern, Waterloo Estate, Leppington Town Centre and Marsden Park Town Centre.

Impact of the new pathways

It is clear that DPIE will take a broader strategic role to inform and deliver precincts that include key infrastructure and investment for NSW. Local councils will also be provided with the ability to progress and lead some existing precincts with important community value.

We expect that improved clarity around the division of responsibility for priority precincts, in addition to an increased focus on collaboration between local councils and NSW Government agencies, may improve the existing rezoning process and help to deliver priority precincts more efficiently into the future.

However, we expect that it will take some time before any rewards of the new approach are evident, particularly in relation to precincts that will transition between State and local council planning bodies.

If you would like any guidance on how these changes might impact your project or precinct, please contact us.

For more information, you can also visit the DPIE website.

By Tom Dougherty, Senior Associate, and Michael Themis, Solicitor, Sydney. 

Peter Briggs
Peter Briggs
Partner, Sydney
+61 2 9225 5155
Rebecca Davie
Rebecca Davie
Senior Associate, Sydney
+61 2 9322 4755
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Senior Associate, Sydney
+61 2 9225 5556
Tom Dougherty
Tom Dougherty
Senior Associate, Sydney
+61 2 9225 5533