The NSW Government is committed to supporting a productive economy by enabling business and jobs in the locations where they are needed and delivering on the communities’ strategic vision for their state.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is currently undertaking a suite of reforms which includes the delivery of a simplified employment zones framework that suits the future of work, is fit for purpose, supports productivity and jobs growth while facilitating delivery of strategic plans and planning priorities.
The reform of employment zones aims to support long-term economic recovery through job creation and encourage increased productivity in NSW.
A key outcome of the project will be to ensure employment zones provide clear strategic intent, include clarity around their application and increase flexibility around land uses.
The department exhibited a proposal to replace the existing Business (B) and Industrial (IN) zones with five new employment zones and three supporting zones under Standard Instrument Principal Local Environmental Plan (2006) (SI LEP).
We have developed the proposed employment zones framework based on quantitative and qualitative evidence to:
The department has undertaken research through a quantitative and qualitative evidence base that has informed the proposed employment zones framework and implementation approach.
A critical component of the department’s research was the stakeholder engagement program which involved working with other state agencies, all councils in NSW as well as key peak, industry and stakeholder groups to understand the current barriers within the existing zoning framework.
We heard from councils, industry and government agencies that there is lack of clarity surrounding the purpose of several of the existing zones, that land use tables are inflexible, definitions reflect outdated business models and create land use conflicts, and that there is inconsistent application of the zones across the State.
Feedback received in local government workshops is that councils want a zoning framework that supports good planning outcomes that includes: a centres hierarchy, manages contemporary land use conflicts, sustains employment lands and creates a nexus between the zones and strategic planning.
We will continue to work closely with local government and have detailed discussions with our key stakeholders throughout the reform process.
Benefits of the proposed changes include:
The proposed employment zones framework was on public exhibition from 20 May 2021 until 30 June 2021. All submissions received by the department have now been considered. Your feedback will help shape and refine the proposed employment zones framework.
Overall, there was general support for the intent of the reforms and the overall framework. Individual submissions express the different views and interests of local government, industry and peak groups, consultant planners, academics and the community. We have sought to balance these interests in finalising the employment zones framework.
Supporting jobs and productivity, alongside supporting delivery of councils’ long-term strategic planning objectives and priorities continues to be the central purpose of this reform. Overall, the new employment zones framework will:
In response to the feedback received on the position paper we are proposing to make several changes to the employment zones framework. The following changes to the policy are proposed as we finalise the employment zones framework:
From here, the department intends to finalise the legal drafting of the employment zones framework and publish the framework in an Amendment Order to the Standard Instrument - Principal Local Environmental Plan. This will introduce the new employment zones alongside the existing Business and Industrial zones and will enable implementation into individual local environmental plans to commence. The timing for this is anticipated to be mid-September 2021.
Following the Amendment Order being published the department will provide to councils for review proposed zone translation detail including:
The translation detail will be supported by a Toolkit and Implementation Plan to guide councils during the transition process as well as a Community Guide explaining for communities the reform of employment zones. The Implementation Plan is being updated to reflect the postponed local government elections.
Once the translation detail has been agreed upon between councils and the department, councils will need to seek their council’s endorsement of draft LEP amendments for public exhibition. The exhibition will occur first quarter of 2022.
The LEP detail will be publicly exhibited and councils, following the feedback from their stakeholders and communities, will be asked to review and endorse any draft amendments to local environmental plans before the amendment of individual LEPs are finalised second quarter of 2022.
The department will continue to work closely with councils during the implementation phase to support translation and minimise disruption as LEPs are brought across into the new framework.
If any issues arise during implementation, the department will make housekeeping amendments to the Standard Instrument - Principal Local Environmental Plan to support translation.
If you would like additional information on the employment zone reform please email the Employment Zones project team.
The employment zones reform work will inform and align to the work the department is doing to prepare draft Employment Land Strategy Guidelines to assist councils in preparing Employment Land Strategies as part of their local strategic planning framework. For information on Employment Lands Strategies and Guidelines please visit our Employment Lands Strategies webpage.
The Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) is also undertaking a review of the policy setting for industrial land. The outcomes of that review will inform strategic planning for industrial land. The proposed employment zones will provide a statutory framework to give effect to that strategic planning. For more information on this work please visit the GSC Industrial Lands Policy webpage.
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Page last updated: 16/09/2021