Item 8.13 - Attachment 4

Background Report on Planning for Westmead Precinct





Planning history


1          In 2003, the State Government commenced the preparation of a planning strategy for the Westmead Precinct given its significance as a major specialised health precinct.  In 2004, the Government Architect's Office released a draft report on the Westmead Precinct Structure Plan - a Vision for 2020 identifying a number of key issues in relation to future development of the precinct.  Subsequently, the Department of Planning commissioned a number of consultants to undertake further work which culminated in the preparation of the Westmead Precinct Implementation Plan which was completed in July 2007. This strategy has not been endorsed by Parramatta City Council and has required evaluation and further investigation of traffic and transport issues. 


2.         Subsequently, over the last few years consultation and a number of important studies have been undertaken that will collectively inform the development of a planning strategy for the Westmead Precinct. These studies include an integrated transport strategy and an employment lands study. A background and history of the planning of the precinct is included as Attachment 2.


State and Council strategies for Westmead


3.         A number of key State Government documents contain important objectives designed to shape the future development and employment growth of Westmead. The Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036 includes the objective (B2) to strengthen major and specialised centres to support sustainable growth of the city. Westmead is identified as a specialised centre in this plan and a future direction is to intensify the cluster of education and health enterprises.  Similarly, the Draft Subregional Strategy for the West Central Sub Region includes aims to consolidate and enhance Westmead's role as a vibrant health and health-related education/research precinct.


4.         Council’s Economic Development Strategy of 2011 – 2016 for Parramatta, seeks an increase in the growth of the knowledge and professional employment sectors.  Westmead is seen as one of four specialised employment sectors and it’s biomedical and health/life science competency will be Parramatta's economic point of difference on a global scale.



Consultation with businesses and residents


5.         Arising from a Council resolution in 2008, Council's Residents Panel organised and undertook consultation separately with residents within the Westmead Precinct and businesses of Hawkesbury Road over 2008 and 2009. The main issues raised by businesses related to insufficient parking for visitors and staff and also traffic management. Residents appreciated the accessibility to activities but were concerned about traffic and also generally safety and cleanliness.


Submissions to draft Parramatta LEP


6.        During the public exhibition of draft Parramatta LEP 2011 a number of submissions were lodged in respect of land on Boundary and Kleins Roads, Northmead seeking a rezoning from industrial to various options of business zoning. Other submissions sought an increase of height and floor space ratio limits for the B4 Mixed Use Zone on Mons and Hawkesbury Roads, Westmead. Consideration of these submissions was deferred pending the completion of a planning strategy for the Westmead Precinct.


7.         Recently, a number of planning proposals have been lodged with Council to modify the zoning and or planning controls for land within the Westmead Precinct. These include proposals to introduce a B4 Mixed Use Zone for the UWS site and to extend the range of permissible uses for industrial zoned properties on Kleins and Boundary Roads. 



Challenges to Westmead


8.         Before the full potential of the Westmead Precinct can be realised, as envisaged under State and Council policy documents, a number of challenges need to be addressed:


(i) Westmead has poor road connectivity to the surrounding arterial road network and consequently suffers poor accessibility and congestion.

(ii) Traffic problems, without appropriate management, will be exacerbated by future developments, such as for the UWS and Westmead public hospital sites.

(iii) Westmead faces competition from other medical precincts in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

(iv) The streetscapes, public places and much of the existing built form of Westmead fails to offer memorable experience or high quality amenity to residents, visitors and pedestrians.

 (v) The zoning and planning controls in Parramatta LEP 2011 do not adequately support the development of land uses that will enhance Westmead's role as a medical and health precinct and may constrain future development opportunities.


Completed Studies and Research


9.         Major studies and investigations undertaken for the Westmead Precinct are summarised in the following subsections.


Integrated transport study


(i)         The firm of Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) was commissioned by Council to prepare an integrated transport strategy, including traffic modelling, to assist in preparing a planning framework to guide development and future infrastructure planning. 


(ii)        SKM reported in February 2010 that in order to accommodate future development growth in the Westmead Precinct a comprehensive range of strategies would need to be pursued. The principal recommendation is that the modal share of public transport (including walking and cycling) will need to be increased to 35% (from 4% currently). Supporting measures include improvement of bus connections, extended rail services, parking demand management (including maximum parking rates) and road network improvements. The strategy is included at Attachment 4.



Employment land study


(iii)       To assist in the development of a planning strategy, and to assist in resolving issues raised in submissions during the public exhibition of the draft Parramatta LEP, the firm of Hill PDA was commissioned in July of this year to examine the role of and demand for employment land in the Westmead Precinct and in particular the role of such land in supporting the strategic role of the precinct for health care.


(iv)       The research confirms that the Westmead Precinct represents the largest concentration of hospital and health services in Australia, serving Western Sydney and providing other special services for the whole of NSW. Over the next 30 years of operation, growth and the ageing population in western Sydney will increase demand for hospital and health related services by as much as 70%. Services at Westmead will need to continue to expand to meet this growth in demand.  Employment numbers for the precinct are expected to increase from 16,124 in 2006 to 27,434 workers by 2036.


(v)        In order to meet the specialised needs of the precinct, recommendations are made to provide business zones on Kleins, Redbank and Mons Roads, and to provide increased height and floor space ratio limits for these zones as well as providing increased height and floor space ratio limits for the existing commercial centre on Hawkesbury Road.  The executive summary of the employment lands study is included as Attachment 5.


Medical precincts in Australia and overseas


(vi)       Background work for the Westmead Precinct has included a literature review of medical precincts elsewhere in Australia and overseas. Precincts studied in Australia have included Randwick and St Leonards in Sydney, the Monash and Parkville precincts in Melbourne and the 109 Central and Western/ Grove precincts in Brisbane. Overseas, the Cambridge medical campus, the Mayo clinic and associated health facilities in Rochester, Minneapolis and Stanford University medical Centre, California have been studied. Important conclusions from this review, relevant to Westmead are the need:


(a)       for a vision with global aspirations with governance and organisational arrangements to promote and manage the strategy

(b)       to recognise the synergy for the creation of spin-off medical/biotechnology and industrial biotechnology products and services both in the core and outer areas of the Westmead precinct

(c)        for enhancement of the public domain and the construction of engaging buildings and the provision of a wide range of commercial and community services.




Importance of a planning strategy


10. All relevant background studies have now been conducted and it is considered that work can now proceed to prepare a planning strategy together with amendments to the Parramatta LEP 2011, DCP 2011 and S94A plan as required, to resolve the challenges that the Westmead Precinct faces. The planning strategy is important for the reasons that it will help to:


(i)   realise State Government and Council plans to enhance Westmead's function as a major health precinct.  Without such a strategy, Westmead may be at a competitive disadvantage with other health precincts being developed and promoted elsewhere in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

(ii)  secure support of the State Government for the development of the precinct. Collaboration with the State government will be vital in realising the precinct’s health and medical potential. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure has indicated their willingness to coordinate the actions required by State agencies for development of the precinct once Council has endorsed a vision (to be contained in the planning strategy) for Westmead.

(iii) provide guidance for the assessment of major development proposals including those likely for the UWS and Westmead Hospitals sites. 


Concept proposals


11. It is anticipated that the planning strategy, which will largely be a synthesis of work already completed, will reinforce and give effect to State Government and Council aims to promote Westmead's health and medical functions.  The strategy will incorporate concept proposals outlined in the following subsections and included in a conceptual plan at Attachment 3. In summary, the concept proposals are:


 (i)        the creation of a high amenity pedestrian orientated spine centred on Hawkesbury Road (‘front –of- house’) and the relocation of hospital parking and the creation of overflow parking to the rear of the hospital site (‘back- of –house’).

(ii)        support for a modal share of public transport of 35% in conjunction with a range of transport, road and parking improvements.

(iii)       a number of changes to planning controls to allow increased development opportunities particularly for medical and health related businesses and industries and also community support facilities (e.g. child care centres).

(iii)       The provision of high quality landscaping in public places and major developments and the construction of inspiring, engaging buildings.

(iv)       Consideration of the establishment of a stakeholders representative body to help promote and manage the planning strategy for the Westmead Precinct.



Traffic and transport


12. In order to ensure that the precinct can accommodate increased development a public transport modal share of 35% will need to be achieved. This will be supported by the provision of maximum parking rates. Accessibility can be enhanced by a number of transport, road and parking improvements, proposals include:


(i)         Widening and upgrading of the bridge connecting Bridge Road to Alexandra Avenue.

(ii)        Improvements at the intersections of Kleins and Redbank Roads with Briens Road.

(iv)       Road connections from Redbank Road, through the rear of the hospital property to Mons Road and from Briens Road, in the vicinity of the Coca-Cola property to the rear of the hospital property.

(v)        The relocation of hospital and provision of overflow precinct parking to the rear of Westmead public hospital (i.e. ‘back of house’).

(vi)       Improvements to public transport including additional bus and train services.

(vii)      Longer term strategic road improvements including the regional ring road.



Land use


13. A pattern of zoning and land use is proposed generally in line with the Parramatta LEP 2011, but with some changes reflecting the recommendations of the Westmead Implementation Plan and also the Westmead Employment Land Study. The following changes are envisaged:


(i)         The application of zoning and planning controls to the UWS site at the corner of Hawkesbury and Darcy Road to enable redevelopment for mixed use purposes.

(ii)        The application of a business zone to the Hawkesbury Road frontage of Westmead Hospital to enable development for mixed use purposes.

(iii)       The application of a business zone, with increases in permitted height and FSR, to land on Kleins, Redbank and Mons Roads to allow the development for general business and medical and health related activities.  The business zone should allow the establishment of biomedical industry attracting small high-tech firms and flexible laboratory prototyping and office space. 

(iv)       An increase of height and FSR limits for the existing commercial centre fronting Hawkesbury Road and Railway Parade.


Landscaping and urban design


14.       The provision of high quality landscaping of public places and in major developments, as shown from Australian and overseas research will be an important factor in creating a successful health and medical precinct.  A high amenity environment will in particular help to attract and retain key knowledge and research workers. Major proposals will generally comprise:


(i)   The creation of a pedestrian oriented landscaped boulevard with high amenity values along Hawkesbury Road.

(ii)  The provision of high quality landscaping in public places and major developments and the construction of inspiring, engaging buildings.

(iii)       The creation of a landscaped walkway (research walk) on the Westmead hospital site linking Hawkesbury Road to the parking area at the rear of the hospital site (i.e. ‘front of house’).


Stakeholders representative group


15.       It is clear from the literature on knowledge and health precincts, that in order to ensure their success they need fit for purpose organisation arrangements, which could include the establishment of a stakeholders representative group to sustain their vision. An appropriate Australian example is Bio 21 Australia Limited. This is a Victorian based, independent, not-for-profit public company that represents twenty two institutions, including universities, tertiary health services, medical research institutes, the CSIRO and other member-based organisations across the state. Bio 21 takes a proactive approach to maximising the benefits of the biomedical cluster for its members for example, by hosting events and forums for developing ideas and collaboration, investigating ways for members to work collaboratively to enhance resources and platform technologies and to foster new businesses. It also provides a unified voice to represent the clusters interests.


16.       Therefore, in line with best international and national practice, consideration should be given to the establishment of a stakeholders representative body to help promote and manage the planning strategy for the Westmead Precinct.



Next steps


17.       The following future steps are proposed:


(i)         To incorporate the concept proposals into a planning strategy to guide the future development of the Westmead Precinct.


(ii)        To undertake consultation with key stakeholders, including landowners and government agencies, in preparing the planning strategy.


(iii)       To seek Council’s endorsement of a planning strategy and to make recommendations to Council to introduce, as required:


    a planning proposal for amendments to the Parramatta LEP 2011.


    amendments to the Parramatta DCP 2011.


    amendments to the Section 94A Development Contributions Plan, providing for future infrastructure improvements to the precinct.


    marketing and promotion measures for the precinct.





18.       Since 2003, extensive studies have been undertaken with the aim of developing a planning framework for the Westmead Precinct which will strengthen its health and medical functions.  It is considered that the next task will be to prepare a planning strategy for the Westmead Precinct in consultation with key stakeholders, which will largely be a synthesis of studies already undertaken.  At the same time, recommendations will be made to Council to introduce amendments as required to the Parramatta LEP 2011, the Parramatta DCP 2011 and the Section 94A  Development Contributions Plan.


19.      The aim of the planning strategy will be, in partnership with State Government and key stakeholders, to help create a vibrant world class medical precinct with high amenity values which encourages the development of a broad range of medical and research facilities and services. A vibrant precinct should lead to improved health outcomes driving increased economic benefits for Parramatta, Sydney and NSW.