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Employment zones reform

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

Reforms to employment zones have delivered 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.

Employment zones support long-term economic recovery through job creation and increased productivity.

The employment zones provide clear strategic intent. Their application is clear and land use permissibility is made more flexible.


The employment zones were finalised in December 2021 with the introduction of 5 new employment zones and 3 supporting zones into the Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2006.

The employment zones were introduced into 134 local environment plans (LEPs) through 6 self-repealing SEPPs on 16 December 2022 and will commence on 26 April 2023.

Mapping will be delivered digitally via the NSW Planning Portal, except where a council has elected to use maps in PDF format.

The new employment zones will be implemented within LEPs in 3 packages over the next few months. 

Amending SLI LEP order and prescribed zones SEPP

The Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Amendment (Land Use Zones) Order 2022 took effect on 30 November 2022.

It sets the date of the repeal of the business and industrial zones to 26 April 2023. It also modifies objectives and land uses in response to submissions, and makes savings and transitional provisions to facilitate the transition to employment zones.

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Transport and Infrastructure) Amendment (Land Use Zones) 2022 also took effect on 30 November 2022.

This SEPP primarily amends the State Environmental Planning Policy (Transport and Infrastructure) 2021 and State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021 to include employment zones as prescribed zones to maintain permissibility under these SEPPs.

Six land use SEPPs

Six self-repealing SEPPs were made on 16 December 2022 to amend 134 LEPs to introduce employment zones. The amendments will take   effect on 26 April 2023.

Those LEPs not included in the 6 SEPPs will be amended by a consolidated/comprehensive LEP process or a future SEPP.

In the meantime, those LEPs will be covered by a savings and transitional provision to maintain their business and industrial zones until their LEP is amended.

Housekeeping SEPP

A self-repealing housekeeping SEPP will take effect in February 2023 to finalise mapping to accommodate ongoing updates to the state cadastre – a digital representation of all land parcel and property boundaries in NSW – and minor omissions or consequential changes across various instruments.


In May 2021, we proposed to replace the existing business and industrial (IN) zones with 5 employment zones and 4 supporting zones under Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2006 (SI LEP Order  ). The reform was finalised in December 2021.

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.

Benefits of the reform

Benefits of the employment zones 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