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Transit-oriented ‘aerotropolis’ in Western Sydney city deal

Proposed stage one airport layout at Badgerys Creek.

Proposed stage one airport layout at Badgerys Creek.

Image: Australian Government

A deal between the federal and NSW governments and eight local councils will see the development of an “aerotropolis” centered on a new airport at Badgerys Creek in Western Sydney.

The will also provide a $7 billion “North South Rail Link” connecting the proposed airport to Western Sydney, to be built before the airport. The line would connect St Mary’s in the north and run south, through the new airport, to the “aerotropolis” at Badgerys Creek, which will initially be built on 114 hectares of land owned by the Commonwealth and funded equally by the state and federal governments.

The aerotropolis is at the heart of the Greater Sydney Commission’s “three city” plan for Sydney’s future development. It would be an “advanced manufacturing, research, medical, education and commercial hub, benefiting from access to the Western Sydney airport”

Speaking at the signing of the deal, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said federal, state and local governments were, for the “first time,” working together to put “a plan and the infrastructure, in place first.”

The "metropolis of three cities" laid out in the Draft Greater Sydney Region Plan.

The “metropolis of three cities” laid out in the Draft Greater Sydney Region Plan.

Image: Greater Sydney Commission

The Western Sydney city deal was first mooted in 2017 as part of the federal government’s announcement that it supported the construction of a second major airport for Sydney. The Sydney Airport Corporation later declined to construct the airport itself, a right it held under its contract with the government.

The Victorian government reacted negatively to the signing of the deal, arguing that the federal government has continually proportionally overfunded projects in Sydney at Victoria’s expense.

In a statement the Victorian government accused the federal government of spending “billions of dollars for a train line to an airport in Sydney that doesn’t exist.”

It said that NSW currently “receives a whopping 45 percent of Federal infrastructure funding” while “Victoria only receives less than 10 percent.”

Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas said, “Malcolm Turnbull is a one-trick pony – forever focusing on Sydney while short changing Victoria.”

The Victorian and federal governments are jointly funding a business case for the construction of an airport rail link.

According to a state parliamentary research paper, “The Victorian government is in a position to bid for a share in the federal $10 billion National Rail Program—a Commonwealth Government funding commitment for urban rail projects over the next ten years.”

Past City Deal agreements have been signed with Townsville (for the construction of a new stadium by Cox Architecture and 9point9), Launceston (for the now-approved construction of a new University of Tasmania campus), and most recently a broadly defined agreement with Hobart that would likely involve the construction of a new UTAS campus in the city’s CBD.

A flurry of activity at the start of 2018 saw the program also expanded to Geelong, although the contents of the Geelong and Hobart City Deals are yet to be confirmed.

The City Deal funding and investment model was first implemented in the UK in 2012 as a way for local bodies to lead investment in their areas. The model encourages city councils, or groups of local councils, to work together to identify local economic opportunities before collaborating with other levels of government to secure funding for those projects.

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