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Growing the West

Western Sydney to emerge as a global 'cityport'

  • Carolyn Cummins

The proposed development of Badgerys Creek into Sydney's second airport will establish western Sydney as a new global "cityport" and a key economic hub.

It comes as the federal election was fought in western Sydney, which all political parties have identified as one of the significant growth engines of the national economy.

Lang Walker has lodged development applications for two commercial A-grade office towers in the Parramatta Square urban renewal project. Photo: Supplied

Already Parramatta is experiencing high demand for office space, giving it the lowest level of vacancy for A-grade property in the country.

CBRE has predicted the city's vacancy rate will drop from 5.4 per cent to just 3 per cent by early to mid next year, and possibly as low as 2 per cent by 2018.

To cater for the growth that will emerge from the new airport, Scentre Group is looking to build an office tower atop its Westfield Parramatta shopping centre.

The developer, Lang Walker, has also lodged plans for new office developments at Parramatta.

But it will be demand from airport-related services that will underpin the growth in new developments.

At the recent CBRE Parramatta Market Outlook Forum, guest speakers Edward Blakely​, district commissioner of Greater Western Sydney, and Barry Mann, director of property and significant assets for Parramatta City Council, pinpointed western Sydney as the growth engine for the NSW economy.

Professor Blakely said a significant focus for the region was the successful roll out of infrastructure to support an airport at Badgerys Creek, which would be the size of Adelaide Airport when it opened and as big as Kingsford Smith Airport within 20 years.

"This is going to establish Badgerys Creek as a global cityport, not just an airport," Professor Blakely said.

He told the forum development of appropriate transport infrastructure over the next 10 to 15 years was critical to support not just Badgerys Creek but also the broader western Sydney region.

His mantra is that "transport leads with speed", and it will be vital to have a travel time of 20 minutes from Parramatta to Badgerys Creek and for speedier connections between Parramatta and its "sister city", Sydney CBD.

When transport works, business works, as it gives you the advantages of the entire metropolitan area.

Professor Edward Blakely

"When transport works, business works, as it gives you the advantages of the entire metropolitan area," Professor Blakely said.

He added it was important to have a focus on planning entire precincts in western Sydney.

"We want to move away from planning buildings and start planning precincts," he told the audience.

One of those precincts is Parramatta Square, with Mr Mann of Parramatta City Council saying a strong focus is to attract large-scale tenants of more than 20,000 square metres.

Mr Mann said there were a number of major tenant inquiries in the market to support this city-changing project, which are due to be open to the public in late 2019, with the final two buildings to be completed in 2021.

CBRE director, advisory and transaction services Stephen Panagiotopoulos​ said the Parramatta leasing market had been going from "strength to strength", with significant rental growth in the past 12 months in tandem with a tightening in incentives.

He said state and federal government tenants were leading the charge in relation to seeking new lease opportunities.

"They are taking charge, they are taking the lead, and I think that will continue," he said.

CBRE advisory and transaction services director Ben Lalic said there only be potentially three existing buildings in Parramatta with vacancies of 1000 sqm or more by the third quarter 2016, which was helping to drive rental growth.

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