Employment Zone Reforms

Background

In 2020, the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) commenced working on a suite of planning reforms to support a productive economy by enabling business and jobs in the locations where they are needed and delivering a degree of flexibility on employment uses in local areas.

As part of these reforms, the DPE is currently seeking to deliver 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.

A key outcome of the reforms will be to ensure employment zones provide clear strategic intent, include clarity around their application and increase flexibility around land uses.

 

What are the reforms doing?

The DPE is proposing to replace the existing Business (B) and Industrial (IN) zones under a council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP) with five new Employment (E) zones and three supporting zones (MU1, SP4 and W4).

In June 2021, the DPE publicly exhibited proposed changes to the Standard Instrument (LEPs) Order 2006 (SI LEP Order) upon which all council LEPs are required to be based.

In particular, the proposed changes involved the incorporation of the new employment and supporting zones and associated mandated objectives land uses.

Council made a submission in response to the proposed amendments made to the SI LEP Order outlining a number of concerns with the proposed framework.

In particular, the submission identified:

  • Confusion and implications arising from new Zone prefix references;
  • Inflexibility in the use of suggested objectives for the new zones;
  • Inability to adequately distinguish between the character of different commercial centres through the proposed reduction of zone choices;
  • Mandating carparks as a permissible use in the commercial core zone would undermine public transport initiatives;
  • Questioned the mandating of home business, home occupations and home industries as a permissible use in the zones, given that they are made exempt development, under SEPP (Exempt and Complying Development Code) 2007;
  • Clarity is required to determine when a “local distribution centre” provides a “local” function;
  • Supported the increased flexibility with regard to shop top housing;
  • Objected to the permissibility of “light industries” within the proposed MU1 Mixed Use zone;
  • Supports the DPE driving the proposed changes to free up council resources; and
  • Recognition that Schedule 1 - Additional permissible uses to a council’s LEP may also need to be amended in light of the proposed changes.

 

Following the public exhibition of the proposed amendments to the SI LEP Order 2006 and consideration of submissions, the Minister for Planning approved an amendment to the SI LEP Order on 5 November 2021 giving effect to the proposed changes.

It is intended that once all of the existing B and IN zones are rezoned to an appropriate Employment (E) or supporting zone, the existing B and IN zones will be repealed from all council LEPs.

 

Public exhibition of the proposed changes

The DPE placed on public exhibition a draft of the proposed translation of the existing B and IN zones for each NSW council LEP into the new employment zones framework.

The public exhibition was from 31 May to 12 July 2022: https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/employment-zones

The DPE’s proposed translation is informed with input from North Sydney Council staff to ensure the best fit within the proposed framework and to ensure that the existing character of its existing Business and Industrial zones is maintained.

The DPE is wholly responsible for the implementation of these proposed amendments.

 

What are the proposed changes?

The following table outlines the translation of the existing zones into the new zone framework.

 

Existing

Proposed

B1 Neighbourhood Centre

E1 Local Centre

B3 Commercial Core

E2 Commercial Centre

B4 Mixed Use

MU1 Mixed Use

IN2 Light Industry

E3 Productivity Support

IN4 Working Waterfront

W4 Working Waterfront

 

The translation of Council’s existing LEP into the new zoning framework will result in all permissible uses under Council’s current LEP being permissible under the LEP as amended in accordance with the new zone framework.

However, the proposed translation will also result in a variety of new uses being made permissible in the translated zone. This has occurred, due to the SI LEP Order making permissible a number of group land use terms, where Council had previously only permitted certain sub land-use terms.

The following table/s identify what new uses will be permissible in the new zones.

 

Zone

Additional permitted uses

B1 Neighbourhood Centre to

E1 Local Centre

Amusement centres

Function centres

Home businesses

Home occupations

Home industries

Hotel or motel accommodation

Local distribution premises

The following types of retail premises:

  • Cellar door premises
  • Food & drink premises
  • Pubs
  • Restaurants & cafes
  • Take-away food & drink premises
  • Small Bars
  • Garden centres
  • Hardware & Building supplies
  • Landscaping and material supplies
  • Markets
  • Plant nurseries
  • Roadside stalls
  • Specialised retail premises
  • Timber yards
  • Vehicle sales or hire premises

Service stations

Vehicle repair stations

B3 Commercial Core to

E2 Commercial Centre

Artisan food and drink industries

Home businesses

Home industries

Home occupation

Local distribution premises

Mortuaries

Recreation facilities (outdoor)

B4 Mixed Use to

MU1 Mixed Use

Home businesses

Home industries

Home occupation

Light industries

Local distribution premises

The following types of tourist and visitor accommodation types:

  • bed and breakfast
  • farm stay accommodation

IN2 Light Industry to

E3 Productivity Support

Animal boarding or training establishments

Boat and building repair facilities

Business premises

Community facilities

Depots

Function centres

Home industries

Hotel or motel accommodation

Industrial retail outlets

Local distribution premises

Mortuaries

Passenger transport facilities

Recreation facilities (major)

Recreation facilities (outdoor)

Research stations

The following types of retail premises:

  • takeaway food and drink premises
  • Garden centres
  • Hardware & Building supplies
  • Landscaping and material supplies
  • Markets
  • Plant nurseries
  • Rural supplies
  • Specialised retail premises
  • Timber yards
  • Vehicle sales or hire premises

Service stations

Storage premises

Veterinary hospitals

Vehicle body repair workshops

Vehicle repair stations

Warehouse or distribution centres

Wholesale supplies

IN4 Working Waterfront to

W4 Working Waterfront

Nil