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Industrial Lands Policy Review

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Industrial and urban services lands play a critical role in supporting Greater Sydney's economy, although in many places this role has changed over time. A wide range of activities operate in these areas, from heavy industry and manufacturing, to cultural and creative uses.

From June 2021 to June 2022, the Commission led a multi-agency review of the Industrial and Urban Services Lands Retain and Manage policy (the Policy) under the Greater Sydney Region Plan - A Metropolis of Three Cities. The Review responds to Recommendation 7.5 of the NSW Productivity Commission's 2021 White Paper. The Policy applies to 159 industrial areas in Greater Sydney.

The Commission’s evidence-based approach to the Review included stakeholder engagement, in-depth interviews with businesses, a peer review by international experts and technical analysis including a multi-criteria analysis, strategic transport modelling and a cost-benefit analysis. You can find out more about these inputs in the Document Library below. 

On 30 June 2022, the Commission released the Industrial Lands Policy Review Findings Paper, which reports the final outcomes of the Review.

In March 2023, the Commission released Information Note SP2023-1 (PDF 142KB) which provides guidance on transitional arrangements (replacing the earlier Information Note – SP2018-1 – Industrial and urban services land (Retain and manage) – transitional arrangements).

The Commission acknowledges the significant input and commitment of the NSW Government agencies, local councils, peak bodies, advocacy groups and industry representatives who contributed to the Review.

Review outcomes

The Review found that the Policy has been successful in providing certainty and a clear market signal for councils and landowners to invest in industrial developments, while reducing unproductive land speculation at odds with the strategic vision for Greater Sydney. Through the Review, however, the Commission identified the need to refine the Policy (by providing greater clarity as to what “manage” means) to respond to the changing nature of land use needs in Greater Sydney. 

The key outcomes of the Review are: 

  • A ‘Retain and Manage’ Policy is needed for the protection of industrial lands in Greater Sydney. The existing Policy will continue to apply. 
  • Draft Guiding Principles will strengthen and support the continued implementation of the ‘Retain and Manage’ Policy. The next Region Plan will consider the findings of this Review and include the vision, objectives and draft Guiding Principles for industrial lands.

Draft Guiding Principles

As part of the Review, the Commission developed eight draft Guiding Principles to help with the management of these lands, published in the Review Findings Paper. These draft Guiding Principles will be assessed for inclusion in the 2023 Region Plan currently being developed.

The draft Guiding Principles build on the strategies and principles in the Greater Sydney Region Plan and provide greater clarity on managing industrial lands that respond to the changing nature of land use needs in Greater Sydney.

They provide a draft strategic framework to assist councils planning for ‘retain and manage’ categorised industrial land. The draft Guiding Principles should be used as part of any review of how this land is managed or in the preparation or review of a local employment land strategy. Preparation and review of employment land strategies should also reflect the Department of Planning and Environment’s Employment Land Strategy Guideline.

New Information Note 

To assist Councils to assess planning proposals seeking to rezone industrial lands, the Commission has prepared an updated Information Note to support transitional arrangements before the new Region Plan is in force.

This Information Note clarifies how proposals for land use change for land in the ‘retain and manage’ category of industrial and employment lands can be investigated. 

This applies to industrial and employment lands in the following LGAs:

Local Government Area (LGA) City
Camden Western Parkland City
City of Campbelltown Western Parkland City
City of Penrith Western Parkland City
Wollondilly Western Parkland City
Canterbury-Bankstown Central River City
City of Blacktown Central River City
Georges River Central River City
Bayside Eastern Harbour City
Burwood Eastern Harbour City
Canada Bay Eastern Harbour City
City of Randwick Eastern Harbour City
City of Ryde Eastern Harbour City
City of Sydney Eastern Harbour City
City of Willoughby Eastern Harbour City
Hunter’s Hill Eastern Harbour City
Inner West Eastern Harbour City
Ku-ring-gai Eastern Harbour City
Lane Cove Eastern Harbour City
Mosman Eastern Harbour City
Northern Beaches Eastern Harbour City
North Sydney Eastern Harbour City
Strathfield Eastern Harbour City
Sutherland Shire Eastern Harbour City
Waverley Eastern Harbour City
Woollahra Eastern Harbour City


Councils are encouraged to start preparing, or review existing, employment land strategies, particularly where Councils determine the draft Guiding Principles would improve the management of industrial lands in the ‘retain and manage’ category.

More information 

You can subscribe to the Commission’s mailing list to receive regular updates and information about our upcoming projects. 

For more information, please email the project team via info@gcc.nsw.gov.au

In parallel with the Review, the Department of Planning and Environment has reviewed of the existing employment zones (Industrial and Business Zones) and land uses under the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan (LEP) Order to ensure the zones are fit for purpose. We have worked closely with the Department throughout the Review to ensure clarity around the synergies and differences of both projects. For more information, visit the Employment Zones reform webpage