Time to End the Aerotropolis Holding Pattern

Belinda Wallis •
November 17 2023

Western Sydney’s Aerotropolis risks being left in a permanent holding pattern unless the government backs the precinct’s potential to soar, as Sydney’s first 24-hour airport gears up for take-off.

The blunt warning comes from the region’s leading think-tank, the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, which will unveil its Rebooting Delivery policy paper at today’s Boomtown! Property and Infrastructure Summit.

The Summit brings together 300 industry leaders from transport, infrastructure and property, as well as senior government members, including Jo Haylen, Minister for Transport, John Graham, Minister for Roads, Jobs & Tourism, Jennifer Westacott AO, Chair, Western Parkland City Authority, and Simon Hickey, Chief Executive Officer, Western Sydney International Airport.

Leading the call for a fresh approach to precinct development, Dialogue Chairman, Christopher Brown, said it was time for the NSW Government to switch from its predecessor’s blue-sky thinking to its own delivery of the Aerotropolis.

“The opening of the Western Sydney International Airport is a once-in-a-century opportunity to attract global investors into the Aerotropolis. If we get it right, the first investments here can trigger crucial momentum to establish new industries, smart jobs and supply chain opportunities,” Mr Brown said.

“Clearing the path for the Western Parkland City Authority (WPCA) to deal directly with prospective investors will be crucial, and if the government doesn’t act, it risks condemning it to a permanent holding pattern, rather than a game-changer for the West.

“That’s why we need a fresh approach. The agency needs a new mandate, with a laser-like focus on bringing to fruition the MOUs already signed with international companies. These are the world’s leading tech, aerospace, research and innovation corporations and institutions ready to set up shop in Sydney’s West, but global capital won’t hang around forever.

“A 24-hour international gateway creates possibilities for investors that are hard to find elsewhere. For the Aerotropolis to succeed, WPCA needs to be fit for purpose.”

Drafted in collaboration with the change management consultancy, Astrolabe Group, the Rebooting Delivery paper outlines a ‘life cycle’ approach to place-based delivery.

“To avoid duplication, inefficiency and confused priorities, we need to set one clear mandate for the agency – to focus on delivering a self-sufficient economic precinct that would be absorbed back into day-to-day government when that’s done,” Mr Brown said.

The call to action will be debated today at the Boomtown! Summit, the region’s premier property and infrastructure event promoting the transport, infrastructure and property projects that will help to grow the cities of the West, as well as addressing urban transformation, cities policy and governance reform.

Now in its eighth year, the annual event outlines the policies and investments that will shape the future of the region. The full-day conference facilitates a dialogue with key decision-makers and stakeholder groups that has been delivered in partnership with the NSW Government since its inception in 2016.

Held at Olympic Park, Boomtown! ’23 will examine the NSW Government’s key infrastructure priorities through the lens of planning and regulatory adjustments and major projects required to meet the growing needs of the region, and ensure future development is matched by appropriate transport links, amenity and services.

The Summit follows the annual Boomtown! Gala Dinner and the 2023 Project of the Year Awards held on Thursday, November 16, where Western Sydney University Bankstown City Campus took out the top prize as Project of the Year.

The Boomtown! Project of the Year Awards was established to acknowledge completed major projects over the past 12 months that significantly contribute to the sustainable growth of Greater Western Sydney.