Major projects ‘future proofing’ Sydney

Sydney has over four million people living in suburbs which are rich with individual character. Strategic plans have been developed to accommodate an additional 1.2 million people in metropolitan Sydney between 2016 and 2031. Through A Plan for Growing Sydney, the NSW Government Department of Planning and Environment promotes the need to make it easier for people to move between their homes, jobs, shops and parks; offers a wider variety of housing to suit the changing needs of the population; delivers new infrastructure that supports the community as it grows; and recognises its environmental assets, including the harbour, the coast, mountains, parks and open spaces. All Australian capital cities are in the business of delivering major projects to achieve similar goals. However, the scale of planned Sydney development over the coming decades is unparalleled. In 2013/14 the Department approved major projects worth $13.5 billion.

Recent property market and general media commentary has focussed on Barangaroo, a transformative project of great scale. While Barangaroo is clearly significant, it is surpassed in size by the Bays Precinct redevelopment.


The Bays Precinct consists of 80 hectares of government owned-land and 94 hectares of harbour waterways, and sits within 2km of the Sydney CBD. A development opportunity of this scale so close to the centre of a global city is exceedingly rare. It includes sites such as the heritage-listed White Bay Power Station, Glebe Island, White Bay, Rozelle Bay, Rozelle Rail Yards, Blackwattle Bay and the Sydney Fish Market.

The land is subject to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority Act 1998.  The Authority owns two significant parcels of foreshore land in the precinct - the White Bay Power Station site and the former Rozelle Rail Yards.

The project is taking shape under the Bays Precinct Urban Transformation Program, a whole-of-government approach led by UrbanGrowth NSW. Owing to the size of the project, a broad range of government agencies are stakeholders, including Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, NSW Planning and Environment, Government Property NSW, Transport for NSW including Roads and Maritime Services, Treasury NSW, Port Authority of NSW and NSW Trade and Investment. The Bays Precinct project team is also collaborating with NSW Health and the NSW Department of Education & Communities.

The Bays Precinct Urban Transformation Plan, released in October 2015, sets out the direction for transforming under-utilised areas into a destination that will contribute significantly to the economic, cultural and social well-being of the city and the state. The Precinct’s heritage values, proximity to the city and waterfront position, present new opportunities for entertainment and leisure facilities, as well as residential, retail and commercial development.

The program objective is to regenerate waterfront areas to provide a vibrant new harbour frontage and foreshore access.

The NSW government has released a Request for Proposals for redevelopment of the landmark White Bay Power Station, a 10 hectare site close to the waterfront, which will house major knowledge sectors such as technology, education, health and creative. It will be a place where innovative global technology firms can work with start-up entrepreneurs and business incubators. High quality public space, with ancillary uses that drive the activation of the precinct and connectivity with the waterfront, will provide a complementary set of uses.

In addition to the Bays Precinct redevelopment, there are several major projects underway in Sydney. The following provides a brief overview of the Barangaroo, Ashmore precinct, Central Park, Green Square and Harold Park projects.

Barangaroo This large-scale urban development, supervised by the state government, is located along the harbour between King Street Wharf and Walsh Bay. Open public space and new water areas will cover 50% of the 22 hectare site. Residential, retail and commercial buildings will eventually cater for up to 23,000 workers and 3,500 residents. Plans for the area include a high-rise hotel.

Barangaroo comprises three precincts: Barangaroo South, a financial services hub which will also include apartments, a major hotel, shops, cafes, restaurants and cultural venues, with a pedestrian link to Wynyard station and the city centre; Barangaroo Central, with commercial spaces alongside parks and public facilities which can host festivals and community entertainments; and Barangaroo Reserve, the 6 hectare foreshore park open to the public.

Barangaroo Reserve

Ashmore precinct One of the City of Sydney’s biggest urban development projects, Ashmore precinct is located in Erskineville on the border of Alexandria. The 17 hectare site will be a new residential neighbourhood with local shops, cafes and a small supermarket. Ashmore will eventually be home to approximately 6,000 residents with development to be staged over 10 years. The redevelopment will create new streets, some with separated bicycle lanes, a large central park, and systems to manage stormwater. Terraces, apartments, and live-work accommodation will be developed to help meet the housing needs of 21st century living.

Central Park Occupying nearly 6 hectares on the site of the former Carlton and United Brewery on Broadway, this will be a residential area with some offices, shops and cafes. International architects will design two buildings along the Broadway fringe and Kensington Street will be a key feature including bars, cafes, shops and galleries.  Central Park's concept plan was approved by the NSW Minister for Planning in 2007 and includes new parks, community facilities and improvements to city infrastructure.

The $2 billion project is striving for a high environmental rating with an on-site tri-generation system for power, heating and cooling which will be the largest urban development in Australia to include this system. Rainwater will be harvested for non-drinking purposes. Green rooftops and solar powered public spaces are also part of the site's sustainable effort. Publicly accessible open space will amount to more than 3.5 hectares. Open spaces will feature public artwork, extensive landscaping, lighting and seating. A main walking and cycling path will run through the centre of the park connecting to the campus of the University of Technology Sydney. Residents will enjoy an on-site car share program and cycling paths.


Green Square Located just 3.5km from the city centre and 4km from the airport, this 278 hectare project includes the suburbs of Beaconsfield and Zetland, and parts of Rosebery, Alexandria and Waterloo. When fully developed after 2030, it will accommodate 30,500 new dwellings with a population of around 61,000, and create 21,000 permanent jobs, many of which will be in the new town centre to be built next to the Green Square train station.  From its industrial past, Green Square is emerging as a place of innovative housing design and bespoke business and retail. Green Square is set to become a model of sustainable high-density living with developments linked to recycled water, shops, parks, gardens, entertainment, and bike and walking routes.

Green Square community pool

Harold Park The Harold Park urban renewal project in Forest Lodge, near Glebe and Annandale, comes under the joint planning control of The City of Sydney and the Central Sydney Planning Committee. The City adopted new planning controls following extensive consultation with the local community to balance the interests of residents, businesses and the land owners, and the need to meet targets for new inner-city housing. The $1.1 billion project includes 1,250 new residences that will house around 2,500 people. Homes will be close to light rail, new parks and nearly 2km of walking and cycling paths which will connect Harold Park to the surrounding area. The former Rozelle tram depot will be conserved and higher sustainability targets mean new homes will use less energy and water.

In July 2012, the Central Sydney Planning Committee approved the overall master plan for the site, approving detailed development applications for buildings in precincts 1 and 2 in September 2012. Construction started in October 2012 and the first residents moved in during 2014.

These major projects represent an exciting new chapter in Sydney’s growth and have already generated a plethora of property investment opportunities.  They will add to Sydney’s existing high quality outdoor spaces, generate housing options, assist in the delivery of shorter work commutes and accommodate a range of new economy jobs.

Sydney is a global city and it is vitally important that the vision articulated in the New South Wales government’s plans maintain a line of site between Sydney and the global forces of change. Some of these forces we know, such as the rise of technology and the global services sector boom; others are yet to be fully defined, such as the disrupting impact of the driverless car.

Sydney’s role as a global city is looking increasingly secure and future-proofed.


About the author:

Mark Courtney General Manager – Queensland E:  
Mark Courtney is MacroPlan’s General Manager – Queensland.  Mark’s is an accomplished property professional whose experience uniquely positions him to provide leadership in property research and consultancy. He has considerable experience in the analysis and development of Australia’s industrial property sector, as well as extensive market trend analysis, feasibility assessment and land demand and supply modelling expertise.
About MacroPlan: MacroPlan's experienced and qualified economists align their understanding of macro-economic forces with micro-economic variables such as geographic and industrial characteristics, demographics, labour market shifts, resource demand and commercial realities.  Contact Mark Courtney, General Manager – Queensland, today to discuss your property research requirements.