The NSW Government is exhibiting a proposal to remove existing business and industrial zones in local environmental plans (LEPs) throughout the State and introduce five new employment zones.
- The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) is exhibiting a proposal to introduce five employment zones (and three supporting zones) with a view to replace the 12 existing business and industrial zones in LEPs throughout the State.
- The proposal is on exhibition until 30 June 2021.
- The new zones will be introduced in September 2021 and will coexist with the existing zones for a year. They will be given effect when individual LEPs are amended via new self-repealing State environmental planning polices (SEPPs) to replace the existing business and industrial zones. This process will occur in two tranches and is expected to finish by mid‑2022.
In NSW, the Standard Instrument — Principal Local Environmental Plan 2006 (Standard Instrument) prescribes the form and content of LEPs.
The Standard Instrument currently contains 12 different business and industrial zones. DPIE recognises that having this many zones creates uncertainty as to the strategic intent of each zone and imposes unnecessary restrictions based on business types.
To address this, DPIE is exhibiting a package of material setting out its proposal to simplify the zoning framework with a focus on employment-generating land.
Proposed employment zones
DPIE proposes to introduce five employment zones:
- E1 Local Centre — to provide a range of retail, business and community uses (similar to the existing B1 Neighbourhood Centre and B2 Local Centre zones);
- E2 Commercial Centre — to provide the principal commercial centre for surrounding areas (similar to the existing B2, B3 Commercial Core, B4 Mixed Use and B7 Business Park zones);
- E3 Productivity Support — to provide a range of facilities and services, light industries, warehouses and offices (similar to the existing B5 Business Development, B6 Enterprise Corridor and B7 zones);
- E4 General Industrial — to provide a range of industrial, warehouse and related land uses (similar to the existing IN1 General Industrial and IN2 Light Industrial zones); and
- E5 Heavy Industrial — to provide areas for industries that need to be separated from other land uses (similar to the existing IN1 and IN3 Heavy Industrial zones).
These employment zones will be supported by the following zones:
- MU1 Mixed Use — to focus on supporting genuine mixed-use development rather than one dominant use (similar to the existing B4 zone);
- W4 Working Foreshore — to reflect the existing IN4 Working Waterfront zone; and
- SP4 Local Enterprise — to introduce a flexible mechanism for unique precincts (for example, special activation precincts and regional jobs precincts).
Amendments to land use provisions
The proposal also amends some land use provisions in the Standard Instrument, including:
- defining “creative industry”, “data centres” and “domestic goods repair and reuse facilities” and adding them to the land uses that can be included in land use tables in LEPs;
- decoupling “local distribution premises” from “warehouse or distribution centres” so that developments like parcel lockers can be separately permitted; and
- clarifying that “business premises” do not include shops.
DPIE expects the reform package to:
- clarify the strategic intent for each zone and minimise land use conflicts;
- promote flexibility within the proposed zones, reducing the need for spot rezoning, and reducing the costs and complexity of development applications; and
- respond to the changing nature of business and industry.
Process for implementation
The proposals are on public exhibition until 30 June 2021. DPIE will release further details such as savings and transitional provisions once they are finalised.
In September 2021, the Standard Instrument will be amended to include the new zones. The existing business and industrial zones will be retained for one year.
In the meantime, DPIE will provide draft land use tables and zone mapping to councils. Councils will provide feedback to DPIE and confirm the required changes to their LEPs. DPIE will then make new self-repealing SEPPs to amend LEPs to implement those changes. This process will occur in two tranches and will be completed by mid‑2022.
Implications and next steps
The proposed reforms will not affect development applications that are made but not determined before the amendments come into effect in 2022. However, if you are planning to make a development application for a commercial or industrial development from mid‑2022, you will need to make sure that your development application aligns with the new zoning framework.
If you would like to understand what the proposed reforms could mean for you or would like any assistance with making a submission, please get in touch with us.
By Peter Briggs, Partner, Daniel Webster, Senior Associate, Tom Dougherty, Senior Associate and Zhongwei Wang, Solicitor
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