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NSW Department of Planning and Environment
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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 vision for an area outlined with local and state strategic plans.

Small and medium sized business are the backbone to a productive economy. Employment zones guide and direct businesses to establish, grow and adapt.

The employment zones reform delivers a simplified framework that:

  • suits the future of work
  • is fit for purpose
  • supports productivity and jobs growth
  • delivers the community’s objectives set through strategic plans and planning priorities.

The reform of employment zones supports long-term economic recovery through job creation and encourages increased productivity in NSW

The employment zones provide clear strategic intent, include clarity around their application and increase flexibility around land uses.

Making it easier for business

In December 2021, the reform of the employment zones was finalised with the introduction of 5 new employment zones and 3 supporting zones into the Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2006.

We are now implementing the employment zones with proposed amendments to individual local environmental plans (LEPs) across NSW.

As part of implementation the department is inviting stakeholders to make a submission on how the employment zones will be included within LEPs from 31 May to 12 July 2022.

The employment zones will be in place within individual LEPs by 1 December 2022 when the Business and Industrial zones will be repealed.

Exhibition of LEP Employment zones implementation 2022

The department exhibited how Business and Industrial zones in LEPs across NSW are to be translated to Employment zones.

The exhibition period ran for 6 weeks, ending on 12 July. The department is now reviewing feedback, which will inform policy finalisation.

The Greater Cities Commission (GCC) has completed 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 strategic planning.

Visit GCC Industrial Lands Policy Review for more information.

Employment zones framework

In May 2021, the department proposed that the existing Business (B) and Industrial (IN) zones be replaced with five employment zones and three supporting zones under Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2006 (SI LEP Order).

The reform was finalised in December 2021 with the introduction into the SI LEP Order of 5 new employment zones and 3 supporting zones.

We developed and finalised the employment zones based on quantitative and qualitative evidence to:

  • maximise productivity while minimising land use conflicts and ensuring they are fit for purpose
  • address current barriers within the planning system that limit the ability of businesses to establish, expand or adapt
  • better support councils in the delivery of the strategic vision contained in their Local Strategic Planning Statements and background studies.

Why the reform?

Benefits of the proposed changes include:

  • a more legible suite of zones – clear strategic intent for each zone that builds on strategic work by the state and local government over the past five years
  • greater flexibility within the proposed zones – across the proposed employment zones framework with a significant increase in mandated permitted uses
  • vibrant and viable centres for communities – by retaining core retail uses in centres
  • support for the city to develop and meet the operational needs of businesses and communities – support for urban services uses by providing a dedicated zone
  • innovation for emerging land uses and unique precincts that require a flexible planning response – a new zone that facilitates detailed precinct planning to support local enterprise
  • managing industrial land use conflicts and amenity impacts – two industrial focused zones appropriate to protect different scale of employment activities and to provide a buffer to incompatible land uses
  • responding to the changing nature of industry and business – three new land use terms and an update to six existing terms to meet contemporary needs
  • reduce need for a spot rezoning – increase in mandated permitted land uses in zones allows greater options for businesses to establish, expand or pivot without the need for a planning proposal
  • increase in jobs closer to homes reduces journey to work – more employment generating uses permitted in centres and industrial precincts reduces the need for long commutes improving productivity and reducing costs
  • reduce administrative costs and complexity of future application processes – proposed employment zones framework will facilitate expanded application of complying development which has significant cost savings from faster approvals meaning reduced holding costs
  • greater business output potential – increase in mandated permitted land uses results in greater access to potential sites and opportunity for diverse businesses to co-locate with associated productivity gains.

More information

For more information on the employment zone reform please:

Banner image by: Destination NSW.

Page last updated: 21/07/2022