Smoothing the Way

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-By John Boley

JBA Urban Planning Consultants is the leading independent expert planning consultancy in New South Wales, with five specialist teams (research and advice, strategy and plan-making, metropolitan projects, industry and infrastructure, coastal and regional) composed of more than 30 planners working collaboratively with clients, co-consultants, government agencies, the community and other stakeholders to ensure planning outcomes are balanced and sustainable. In the last 18 years JBA Planning has achieved an impressive list of 4,000-plus projects, of which more than 50 have won prestigious industry awards.

When we spoke to the JBA team, they were very busy, preoccupied with the forthcoming NSW state election (March 26) which has been widely tipped to bring change to the state. “Opposition Liberals have foreshadowed a number of legislative changes (if they are elected) and some people may have been prompted to put applications in before those changes so it’s probably given us a stronger start to the year than usual.”

Founder Julie Bindon said this would not adversely affect business for the rest of the year. “If we do in fact have a change of government and if there is some planning reform it is likely to be some time before legislation could be put before parliament. The government is still going to have to find a way to get projects of state significance through.”

“I think everyone admits that the system is very complex here in NSW in particular. Planners in NSW along with the development industry and the community all acknowledge it is complex and are all looking for some sort of simplification.”

JBA Planning offers a comprehensive range of services across all aspects of the planning and development process, structured via the specialist teams that Julie explains are a slightly unusual method of management but necessary because of the sheer size of the company. “Our clients benefit from tailored services relevant to their project’s location or market segment. They also have access to the wider skills and experience available across the organisation as a whole.”


JBA has been involved since 2006 in the planning for Barangaroo, one of the largest CBD urban renewal projects in the history of Sydney. JBA prepared the original rezoning and concept plan for the redevelopment of the overall 22 hectare site, on behalf of the NSW government. Barangaroo will deliver approximately 564,000 square metres of mixed-use floor space and 11 hectares of new public open space with a range of formal and informal open spaces. With an end value of approximately $6 billion, the project is expected to be completed over the next 10-15 years, and construction commenced in early 2011.

Barangaroo South accommodates approximately 85 percent of the total floor space within the site, and will involve obtaining the necessary planning approvals for construction of 20 separate buildings (eleven residential, eight commercial, a landmark international hotel and a cultural building). In addition, Barangaroo South will deliver significant elements of the Barangaroo public domain including new streets and pedestrian connections, a new southern cove harbour intrusion, a public pier and foreshore promenade. In total Barangaroo will return 2.2km of waterfront to Sydneysiders.

Significant sustainability targets have been incorporated into the development by Lend Lease including a carbon neutral outcome supported by the use of new offsite renewable energy generation, a water positive outcome, world-leading 6-star Green Star commercial office design and zero waste with greater than 90 percent diversion of construction waste from landfill, greater than 80 percent diversion of operational waste from landfill and ‘closed loop’ return of usable soil and energy from waste processing.

Macquarie University

JBA Planning has been involved with the planning for the Macquarie University campus for the last seven years. This has covered all aspects of planning, from the campus-wide masterplan for the next 25 years to the rezoning of the Campus to achieve commercial land uses, Part 3A applications for the concept plan and all major development to date, as well as DAs for smaller projects, and self-assessed environmental reviews for roadworks and demolition.

Approved in August 2009, the Part 3A project gave the university the scope to achieve some 570,000 square metres of additional floor space on its large campus. This major increase in floor space includes some 400,000 square metres of commercial floorspace, 61,200 square metres of academic floorspace and an additional 3,450 student housing beds.

The rezoning achieved scope and flexibility to deliver the concept plan’s floorspace. JBA assisted in gaining additional development heights well above what would have been possible in council’s local plan. At the newly opened Macquarie University train station buildings ranging from 36m (9 storeys) to 108m (27 storeys) are possible. Also, a much wider range of land uses are permitted to foster the role of the University as an incubator for business and technology sectors.

Central Park

Central Park is the major urban renewal development of a former brewery site on Broadway, near Sydney’s central station. The 5.8 hectare site is being redeveloped by Frasers Property Australia Pty Ltd as a mixed-use ‘urban village’, with offices, apartments and retail in 11 different development blocks. The buildings are designed around a large centrally located public park, which inspired the precinct’s name. When completed, the Central Park development will yield a minimum of 77,000 square metres of retail/office space and approximately 1,900 apartments.

JBA Planning was engaged several years ago by the previous owners, Carlton United Breweries, who were relocating to a more modern plant in Queensland. Carlton needed to sell the old brewery that had been on the site for almost 100 years. Obviously they wished to maximise the value of their land and realise any uplift from redevelopment. JBA Planning advised the owner on the statutory approvals process, the planning merit and other issues and assisted the consultant team with the physical site planning. JBA also prepared the initial concept plan application and assisted CUB’s legal advisers in drafting a Voluntary Planning Agreement for the funding of infrastructure and public benefits.

When CUB sold the land to Frasers Property Australia, JBA Planning continued to work on the project by way of amendments to the original Concept Plan and detailed Project Applications for demolition, site remediation, roads and other infrastructure, the main park and first buildings. Work has now commenced. The first of the major buildings have been designed by high profile international and Australian architects, including Foster & Partners, Ateliers Jean Nouvel and Johnson Pilton Walker.

Green Square Urban Renewal Area

The green square urban renewal area is some 270 hectares of former industrial land strategically located between the Central Business District of Sydney and the airport and Port Botany. It is also located just 5km from some of Sydney’s finest eastern-suburb beaches. The land is held in multiple ownerships meaning redevelopment can be piecemeal, and has inherent problems of land uses conflicts between the old and new uses, as well as the delivery of upgraded or new transport, social infrastructure and services. The vision is to transform this area into a vibrant mixed use community that will be serviced by a new town centre.

JBA’s work on the project has covered a wide range of services including: providing planning due diligence to the existing industrial land owners and to those seeking to acquire sites; preparing Master Plan submissions and securing of Master Plan approvals from Sydney city council and the Central Sydney planning committee; assisting with the negotiation of voluntary planning agreements to deliver public domain improvements as part of the floor space bonus scheme and as offsets against the provision of Section 94 developer contributions; and preparing, negotiating and helping to secure development consents.

The sorts of issues confronting landowners and developers are the high water table in the area, site contamination from previous industrial uses, lack of permeability of the area given the large size of many former industrial lots, the lack of established facilities to serve the incoming population and public transport services in their infancy.

As highlighted in the above projects, JBA’s work is both broad and highly specialised: capable of providing some very boutique skill sets to a wide range of projects, JBA continues to be the go-to firm for planning consultancy in the region.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

November 21, 2018, 3:42 AM AEDT