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Mixing work and living - the debate continues

The debate over the role of industrial zoned land in catering for Sydney’s growth continues.

The NSW Urban Taskforce’s latest advocacy paper is campaigning for a new ‘Light Industrial Mixed Use’ zone. The paper is a response to the Greater Sydney Commission’s publication ‘A Metropolis that Works’, which makes the case for the preservation of industrial land for urban services across the Sydney metropolitan area.

Central to the debate is the question of whether or not to allow residential uses in areas currently zoned for industrial purposes.

There is growing consensus that increasing the diversity and density of land uses is a good thing for contemporary cities. The question of whether or not to allow a greater mix is not solely about managing amenity impacts – there can be little argument that many contemporary manufacturing activities can operate alongside residential uses.

It is also about ensuring that our cities have a stock of land that is both affordable for service industries and that have a critical mass of activity to be viable as a business location. There are many examples across Australia where incremental rezoning of industrial land has resulted in the total displacement of industrial activities due to land speculation and fragmentation.

The GSC argues that supporting our industrial and urban services land will sometimes require that such areas are protected from the economic displacement effects of competing land uses such as residential.

The Urban Taskforce on the other hand argues that inner city land is too valuable to preserve solely for industrial uses, and that a new mixed use zone should be created to allow more efficient use of such land.

The Taskforce has suggested that a new 'LIMX' zone could require that circa 20% of floor space be preserved for light industrial uses in such a zone.

It is debatable whether service industries would be able to remain and thrive in locations that were rezoned in this way, in the face of the likely steep increase in land and rental prices associated with rezoning.

In Victoria, the new Commercial 3 zone allows a mix of residential and industrial uses, but residential uses are expected to only form a minor part of the overall mix. The zone requires that between 65% and 50% of floorspace be preserved for non-residential use. The intent of the Commercial 3 zone is to allow a genuine mix of uses but to also ensure that new uses do not end up displacing industrial uses from such areas. You can read more about the zone here.

This is a new zone and it is yet to be tested - however, the balance that the zone is seeking to strike between residential and non-residential uses is very different to that being advocated by the NSW Taskforce.

You can read more about Echelon’s contributions to this topic in our report here.

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