Posted on April 20, 2022 by Sue Puckeridge and Lachlan Penninkilampi

Greater Sydney is now the Six Cities Region

As of 13 April 2022, the Greater Sydney Region, is to be known as the ‘Six Cities Region‘.

The Greater Cities Commission Act 2022 (‘Cities Act‘) implements this change.  The Cities Act also repeals the Greater Sydney Commission Act 2015 (‘GSC Act‘), reconstitutes Greater Sydney Commission (‘GSC‘) as the Greater Cities Commission (‘GCC‘), and amends the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (‘EP&A Act‘) to require district plans for the Six Cities Region to include targets for net additional dwellings.

Key features of the Cities Act are discussed below.

The Six Cities Region

The Greater Sydney Region was an area defined by Schedule 1 to the GSC Act.  It was bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east, Pittwater and Hornsby to the north, Hawkesbury to the northwest, Blue Mountains to the west, Wollondilly to the southwest, and Campbelltown and Sutherland to the south.  The GSC exercised strategic planning functions within the Greater Sydney Region.

Under the Cities Act, the Greater Sydney Region no longer exists.  Instead, the following six cities are created:

  • the Eastern Harbour City
  • the Central River City
  • the Central Coast City
  • the Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle City
  • the Western Parkland City
  • the Illawarra-Shoalhaven City

This is an increase in the area previously known as the Greater Sydney Region.

The local government areas comprising each of the six cities are specified in Schedule 1 to the Cities Act.

The aim in creating the Six Cities Region is to create ‘a polycentric region where each city builds on its existing strengths and local character while leveraging the benefits of scale to attract new talent and investment as well as enhanced infrastructure and amenities‘: Second Reading Speech, the Minister for Cities.

The GCC which replaces the GSC, generally has the same functions as the GSC, the key difference between the two agencies being that the GCC has jurisdiction over the Illawarra-Shoalhaven City and Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle City.

The GCC also differs from its predecessor in that it has new objectives in relation to climate-resilient development, First Nations peoples’ involvement and participation in environmental planning and assessment, and coordination of the delivery of key economic precincts.

Despite the changes above, the term ‘Greater Sydney Region‘ continues to be used in various statutes.  To accommodate this, the meaning of ‘Greater Sydney Region‘ as it existed under the GSC Act has been preserved as a commonly used expression under section 21 and a new Schedule 1 of the Interpretation Act 1987.

Changes to the EP&A Act

Section 3.4 of the EP&A Act is concerned with the preparation and content of district strategic plans.  A draft district strategic plan must include or identify, amongst other things, the planning priorities for the district that are consistent with the objectives, strategies and actions specified in the regional strategic plan for the region in respect of which the district is part: s3.4(b) of the EP&A Act.

Until now, ‘planning priorities‘ has been undefined. The Cities Act defines ‘planning priorities‘ to mean:

(a) for a district within the Six Cities Region—must include targets, for the periods of 5, 10 and 20 years after the making of the plan, for each local government area in the district, for development consents to be granted by consent authorities for net additional dwellings in the district, and

(b) for other districts—may include net additional dwelling targets.

Dwelling‘ has the same definition as in the dictionary to the Standard Instrument—Principal Local Environmental Plan.

The inclusion of a statutory target will affect not only district strategic plans, which in the Six Cities Region will be prepared by the GCC, but also local strategic planning statements prepared by local councils. This is because section 3.9(2)(b) of the EP&A Act requires local strategic planning statements to include or identify planning priorities for the area that are consistent with any applicable strategic plan.

Saving of current regional and district plans

The Environmental Planning and Assessment (Savings, Transitional and Other Provisions) Regulation 2017 has also been amended to save the Greater Sydney Regional Plan, Sydney district plans, Illawarra Shoalhaven Regional Plan 2041, existing and draft Central Coast Regional Plans, and existing and draft Hunter Regional Plans, until new plans are made.

At the time of writing this blog, the Cities Act and consequent amendments to other legislation have not been uploaded to the NSW Legislation website.  We expect this will occur soon.

In the meantime, you can see the full text of the Cities Act here.

If you would like to discuss this blog post, please contact Sue Puckeridge at 02 8235 9702 or Lachlan Penninkilampi at 02 8235 9719.