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Growing international trade gateways

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Planning Priority E9

Port Botany and Sydney Airport are trade gateways for the CBD and the nation. Sydney Harbour contributes as a working harbour and also welcomes international visitors through cruise ship tourism. They play a major role in supporting the Harbour CBD and the Eastern Economic Corridor. They generate significant opportunities for employment and industry as places that distribute business resources and freight across Greater Sydney, regional NSW and all other states.

These essential economic gateways, their supporting industrial precincts and essential transport connections and corridors must therefore be safeguarded and given the support required for growth.

Port Botany and Sydney Airport will grow significantly with the container traffic at Port Botany projected to grow from 2.4 million to 8.4 million containers by 2050 and passenger trips at Sydney Airport forecast to grow from 39 million to 74 million passengers by 2033.

Each trade gateway has substantial areas of industrial zoned land and road and rail infrastructure in their immediate environs. These provide support services critical to their operations, capacity and growth (refer to Planning Priorities E10 and E12).

Even though larger scale freight and logistics firms may choose to locate in the Western Parkland City, a significant freight and logistics task will remain in the Eastern City District due to the competitive advantages and efficiencies afforded by proximity to these gateways and the District's four intermodal terminals. Critical to servicing these operations will be the retention of sites large enough to meet their needs - generally, two hectares or more.

Retaining the current capacity and growth of these gateways will help maintain their competitive advantage over interstate ports. Preventing the encroachment of sensitive uses that can impact on their operations, such as residential and commercial, and ensuring good transport networks is of national significance.

Opportunities provided by improved links to Port Botany and Sydney Airport and planning for the F6 Extension will improve motorway access and freight movements from the Eastern Harbour City across Greater Sydney and to Port Kembla/Illawarra, supporting the functions of critical economic gateways and freeing up road capacity (refer Planning Priority E10).

Freight movements

Changes are continuing to occur in the freight and logistics sector, in part driven by technology changes and related changes to some retail business models. While significant long-term growth in the freight and logistics sector is in the Western Parkland City, the nature of different supplies such as local produce will require opportunities in the Central River City and Eastern Harbour City to be retained.

Port Botany is the freight hub for the State and is a major focus of the NSW freight network. Internally within the District, freight moves between the gateways of Sydney Airport and Port Botany to Sydenham, the Cooks River Intermodal Terminal and the Enfield Intermodal Logistics Centre. Glebe Island and White Bay provide critical port infrastructure and marine logistics support in Sydney Harbour. Port functions at Glebe Island and White Bay need to be retained and expanded primarily to meet the needs of the inner city concrete supply chain.

Photo of a container ship in Botany Bay.

Botany Bay

In addition, the Eastern City District has the highest concentration of parcel deliveries across Greater Sydney many of which arrive via air-freight with others via road. Planning decisions should support the growing demand for parcel deliveries and on-demand freight. The Sydney Airport curfew and the consequent timing of parcel deliveries and collections often coincides with the morning and evening peaks, intensifying peak traffic congestion.

Freight-related initiatives include:

  • NSW Cargo Movement Coordination Centre
  • WestConnex and Sydney Gateway
  • Port Botany freight line duplication
  • Northern Sydney Freight Corridor improvements from Strathfield
  • Sydney Airport road upgrades.

As the Eastern City District grows, the need for freight movements, particularly delivery vehicles, will continue to increase. Freight movements can have negative impacts on the amenity of neighbourhoods, such as noise and additional congestion on roads, particularly during the morning peak.

Transport for NSW will be developing a Last Mile Freight Policy (i.e. the final stage of delivering freight to a customer in collaboration with industry to encourage more freight movements in centres to take place outside of normal business hours). Freight movements outside of peak times can help reduce congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and freight costs. The planning and design of communities should take a balanced approach to minimising the negative impacts of freight movements, and support more efficient freight movements. This could include considering how development addresses busy roads, the siting of loading docks and how more freight movements can take place out of peak hours.

Since January 2016, a trial has been underway to improve the Harbour CBD's last mile freight network by providing courier companies with a hub to transfer goods from vans to bicycles and other modes. Space within the Goulburn Street car park has been used as a distribution and collection point on the fringe of the CBD for couriers and businesses.

Eight courier companies have been testing the hub by transferring parcels from vans to couriers on bicycles and foot that then make deliveries to customers throughout the CBD. When operating at full capacity it is estimated that the hub could help ease congestion by saving 26,000 kilometres travelled by van in the CBD and reducing loading zone usage by approximately 4,000 hours each year.

Port Botany

Port Botany contains one of Australia's major land and sea freight gateways and is Australia's second largest container port as well as a bulk liquids berth. It distributes import trade across Australia and provides local producers with access to world markets.

The Port's industrial-zoned land within the port precinct provides jobs mainly in transport, postal and warehousing, manufacturing and wholesale trade sectors.

The freight and container handling function of surrounding industrial zoned land is being eroded through subdivision of blocks to less than two hectares, residential encroachment and an increasing share of knowledge-intensive jobs. This encroachment undermines the economic strength of the precinct. Strong protection and planning for port growth and change can stem this loss.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is reviewing planning controls for land surrounding Port Botany to enable continued operation and to minimise conflicts with sensitive land uses. In addition, planning for buffer zones around the precinct must improve.

Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport is a major freight, business and tourism gateway for the Harbour CBD and the nation. It contains Sydney's existing domestic and international air terminals, and is located approximately six kilometres from the Harbour CBD. It generates an estimated 18,100 jobs18 and has a passenger rail connection to the Harbour CBD. Public transport access for employees is hindered by the high costs of travel when disembarking at Sydney Airport train stations.

A commercial core has developed around Mascot Station which comprises a number of hotels and high density, mixed-use A-grade commercial buildings catering to large tenants.

The amount of industrial land supporting Sydney Airport has decreased with encroachment from residential developments and knowledge-intensive jobs. Like Port Botany, Sydney Airport's role in supporting a global city and as a major freight gateway requires protection and planning for growth.

It will be important to ensure retention of the surrounding industrial land which provides essential supporting functions for the airport.

Glebe Island

The port precinct at Glebe Island is critical to the bulk construction supply chain for concrete, the cruise industry and the provision of essential services to the harbour economy. It offers a land/ water interface, essential to current and future industrial/heavy commercial uses, which could not be easily replaced within Sydney Harbour and for which there are few, if any, feasible and sustainable alternatives.

For the bulk construction materials supply chain, the port provides the only sustainable marine logistics solution where the alternate transport option is often long haul truck movements coming from sources that are increasingly remote from Sydney.

The port precinct also provides essential services for Sydney Harbour including commercial vessel refuelling and the staging of harbour-based construction and events.


Manage the interfaces of industrial areas, trade gateways and intermodal facilities by:

Land use activities
a. providing buffer areas to nearby activities such as residential uses that are sensitive to emissions from 24-hour port and freight functions 
b. retaining industrial lands for port, intermodal and logistics uses as well as the landside transport network from the encroachment of commercial, residential and other non-compatible uses which would adversely affect industry viability to facilitate ongoing operation and long-term growth
c. requiring sensitive developments within influence of port and airport operations to implement measures that reduce amenity impacts
d. improving communication of current and future noise conditions around Port Botany, airports, surrounding road and rail networks, intermodal terminals and supporting private lands
e. improving the capacity of existing stakeholders to implement existing planning noise standards for incoming sensitive developments
f. protecting prescribed airspace from inappropriate development, for example, height of building controls that would allow buildings to penetrate prescribed airspace and reducing the capacity of existing airport operations
g. identifying and preserving land for future port and airport, intermodal and rail infrastructure
h. ensuring adequate land is available for transit uses, for example, bus layovers.
Transport operations
i. providing the required commercial and passenger vehicle, and freight and passenger rail access
j. preventing uses that generate additional private vehicle traffic on roads that service Port Botany and Sydney Airport such as large-scale car-based retail and high density residential, to reduce conflicts with large dangerous goods vehicles (for example, Foreshore Road and Denison Street, Banksmeadow)
k. recognising and giving effect to the National Airports Safeguarding Framework, incorporating noise, turbulence and wildlife safety measures.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations


Protect and grow the trade gateways by:

Port Botany
a. retaining industrial zoned land in and near Port Botany precinct
b. protecting Port Botany's function as an international gateway for freight and logistics and supporting port-related land uses and infrastructure in the area around the port
c. supporting the land use needs of freight movement to increase the proportion of container freight transported by rail
d. investigating a corridor for an enhanced road link from Port Botany to WestConnex
e. investigating duplication of Port Botany freight line
f. improving management of land use conflictsg.managing the biosecurity risk for primary industries
h. creating safe cycling and walking connections.
Sydney Airport
i. identifying and retaining strategically important employment and urban services land in and near Sydney Airport precinct
j. protecting Sydney Airport's function as an international gateway for passengers and freight, and support airport-related land uses and infrastructure in the area around the Airport
k. facilitating road planning to connect Sydney Airport to WestConnex
l. managing the biosecurity risk for primary industries.
m. Providing safe cycling and walking connections, particularly to Mascot Station
Glebe Island
n. develop a strategy for the management of port and related land side activities as part of the masterplan for the Bays Precinct

Bayside Council, Council of the City of Sydney, Inner West Council, Randwick City Council, other planning authorities and State agencies


Optimise the efficiency and effectiveness of the freight handling and logistics network by:

a. protecting current and future freight corridors and shared freight corridors
b. balancing the need to minimise negative impacts of freight movements on urban amenity with the need to support efficient freight movements and deliveries
c. identifying and protecting key freight routes
d. limiting incompatible uses in areas expected to have intense freight activity.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations