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.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is currently working on a suite of planning reforms. This 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 existing Business (B) and Industrial (IN) zones with five new employment zones and three supporting zones will be replaced with five new employment zones and three supporting zones under Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2006 (SI LEP Order).
We have developed the employment zones framework based on quantitative and qualitative evidence to:
The department did quantitative and qualitative research to inform the 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surrounding the purpose of several of the existing zones, that land use tables are inflexible, definitions reflect outdated business models and create land use conflicts, and that there is inconsistent application of the zones across the state.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 manages contemporary land use conflicts, sustains employment lands, focuses retail uses within centres and creates a link between the zones and strategic planning.
We will continue to work closely with local government and have detailed discussions with our key stakeholders while we implement the new zones within individual local environmental plans.
Benefits of the proposed changes include:
The 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. This feedback was used to help shape and refine the 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 have made the following changes to the employment zones framework:
The Amendment Order to the Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2006 has now been published. This introduces the new employment zones alongside the existing business and industrial zones and enables implementation into individual local environmental plans to begin.
The new employment zones come into effect within the Standard Instrument Principal Local Environmental Plan on 1 December 2021. This allows employment zones to be introduced after references to environment zones are updated, to reduce the risk of misinterpretation where environment zones are currently referred to by just the E prefix in environmental planning instruments. See conservation zones for further information.
In the coming weeks, the department will provide councils with the proposed zone translation detail for existing business and industrial zones. The translation detail will include:
This detail will need to be reviewed, confirmed and returned to the department to enable the next steps in implementation to occur.
The translation detail is supported by a toolkit and implementation plan to guide councils during the transition process. The department will also provide a community guide explaining the changes to employment zones.
The translation detail will need to be endorsed by councils for public exhibition. The exhibition of proposed amendments to individual LEPs is planned for early 2022.
For more information on the employment zone reform please
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. Visit Employment Lands Strategies and Guidelines for information.
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. Visit GSC Industrial Lands Policy for more information.
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Page last updated: 15/11/2021