Development of warehouses and data centres will be accelerated under planning changes in a bid to stimulate NSW's post-pandemic economy.
The state's minister for planning and public spaces, Rob Stokes, said the planning approvals would be assessed as State Significant Developments (SSD) with the threshold lowered from $50 million to $30 million until 2023.
“During the pandemic, there has been a noticeable shift closer towards e-commerce, remote working and cloud storage which has led to an increase in data centres and warehouses,” Stokes said.
“These are great for stimulating the economy—they’re simple to build, simple to assess and create a high number of direct and indirect jobs.
“Data centres and warehouses represent a $4.9-billion pipeline of projects so by lowering the threshold to assess more of them as state significant developments, we are pushing them through the planning system more quickly.”
The changes to the SSD assessment pathway are part of the government’s Planning Reform Action Plan, announced last year.
They are, the government said, aimed at reform and streamlining processes in consultation with industry and councils.
The demand for data centres, sparked by the global pandemic, is driving up industrial land prices in select Australian locations.
The Property Council of Australia welcomed news of the lower budgetary thresholds for data centre and warehouse developments.
“Warehousing and logistics serve as the backbone to the NSW economy,” Property Council of NSW’s executive director Jane Fitzgerald said.
“This decision means the state will take an expanded role in approving developments which enable our supply chains to function more efficiently and effectively in a time of economic disruptions and upheaval.”
Fitzgerald said a ANZ/Property Council survey showed sentiment in the industrial property sector in NSW was at record levels.
“Industrial and logistics property is a hot commodity right now and it’s great to see the NSW government striking while the iron is hot,” she said.
Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest said the changes showed there was a pathway to faster home approvals.
He said more needed to be done to address critical housing shortages in the state.
“The planning system is facing a crisis with under supply of new homes driving up prices; a fact recently noted by Westpac, NAB, the RBA, the Federal Productivity Commission and the NSW Productivity Commission,” Forrest said.
“It is time for a fresh look at opportunities to deliver housing supply faster.”