The “aerotropolis” surrounding Western Sydney Airport could become home to an $8 billion net-zero carbon “World Trade Centre”, under a proposal submitted to the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet.
The NSW government on Monday held an investor forum on opportunities at the 10,000-hectare greenfield site around the Western Sydney Airport, which it has declared “Australia’s newest economic zone”.
Coinciding with the event, architecture practice Woods Bagot revealed it has been working on a master plan for an $8 billion mixed-use development that could include four commercial towers, an innovation and incubation hub, residential, retail, and a convention and exhibition centre.
The company behind the proposal, Aerotropolis Group, owns 120 hectares of land at Bringelly, three kilometres south of where the airport will be built, and has bought a licence from the World Trade Centers Association to use the name. The company also owns plots of land in nearby Leppington, and has proposed apartment and hotel developments on other sites.
Woods Bagot design director Neil Hill said the WTC Sydney project was an opportunity to consider the future of development and ways to enable sustainable growth.
“In combination, the new Western Sydney Airport and the realisation of the Greater Sydney Commission’s strategy for the Western Parklands City is an extraordinary opportunity to conceive urban development hosting high-tech industries synthesised with the unique natural environment of the Nepean river system and Cumberland Parklands for sustainable living,” Mr Hill said.
He said the master plan would see energy produced, stored and shared between the towers and low-rise mixed use developments. Other features include internal light rail, an electric vehicle network and the potential for metro rail connection.
Mr Hill told The Fifth Estate the precinct was large enough to enable synergies such as energy sharing between different uses at different times of the day through a decentralised energy plant. Bringelly Creek could also be used as part of a cooling strategy, as there was enough water volume in current reservoirs for heat exchange.
He said the plan was to implement sustainability technologies available today, but due to the project time also remain open to technologies of the future.
Aerotropolis Group, Mr Hill said, was at this early stage attempting to use momentum of political will around the airport to encourage development and influence things like rail alignment. If the strategic plan is endorsed, it would likely bring developers into a consortia to develop specific parcels.
Modelling done by PwC has estimated the proposal could see the creation of 43,500 direct jobs and directly boost the economy to the tune of $13 billion.
Aerotropolis Group managing director and chief executive Jomon Varghese said WTC Sydney could overcome structural issues faced by Sydney by shifting focus to the west.
“We are excited about this project,” Mr Varghese said. “It will create an ecosystem to promote international trade, economic activity and employment generation by connecting Sydney to the 322 cities in 90 countries through the WTC network.”
He said the project could be complete by the time the airport is opened in 2026.
At the event of Monday, Ms Berejiklian also confirmed the government would work with its federal counterpart to ensure rail is delivered from St Mary’s on the existing T1 Western Line to the Western Sydney Airport and North Bringelly by the time the airport opens.
“The Western Sydney Aerotropolis will be a dynamic, diverse precinct at the heart of the booming Western Sydney economy,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Local and international companies have a unique opportunity to set up shop in this vast, greenfield site and help create a vibrant economic zone for Western Sydney and for NSW.”