Big transport plans at $5bn Sydney tech park

Premier Gladys Berejiklian: The NSW government quietly revealed it had now agreed to the station proposal, in concept form. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James Gourley.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian: The NSW government quietly revealed it had now agreed to the station proposal, in concept form. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James Gourley.

NSW’s under-pressure Berejiklian government has ushered a plan for a new Metro station at the technology park owned by the billionaire Baiada family near the planned Western Sydney Airport through to the next stage of its controversial unsolicited proposals process.

The mechanism has been used for contentious projects including the Crown Resorts project at Sydney’s Barangaroo and Macquarie Group’s development of office towers above Martin Place Metro station.

The Baiada family, via its Celestino Developments arm, has long promoted plans for a $5bn Sydney Science Park and it was last month confirmed as the location of a proposed new Metro station on a line leading to the airport.

The NSW government quietly revealed it had now agreed that the station proposal, in concept form, held “sufficient interest” to warrant “further development and progression to a more defined project” as an unsolicited proposal.

The property firm takes its name from the late Celestino Baiada, who came to Australia from Malta in 1916 and built what became a giant chicken business, as well as buying major parcels of land for future development.

The family behind huge poultry brands such as Steggles has a private development firm, EJ Cooper & Son, generating profits of more than $100m a year from projects in Sydney’s west and Queensland’s southeast.

Sydney Science Park has been pitched as a multi-billion-dollar Western Sydney city of the future and could be even bigger if a station deal is finalised. Celestino has promoted the park as becoming a city larger than the Sydney CBD, with more than 12,000 jobs, 10,000 students and 10,000 residents. In a submission to a planning review earlier this year the company said its landholding of 440ha made it the largest private landholder within the Western Sydney Aerotropolis and only second in size to Western Sydney Airport overall. The company said the Sydney Science Park at 287ha formed a substantial part of its overall holdings.

The submission said if a Metro station was located at the park, it should trigger a “holistic review of the current masterplan with a view to abolishing current caps on residential and retail heights and yields or, increasing them as a minimum”.

The site sits in the northern precinct of the priority growth area around the airport and was rezoned in 2016 to mainly mixed land uses. Under the unsolicited scheme, Celestino would provide the NSW government with the land required for the Sydney Metro-Western Sydney Airport rail corridor and Metro station at Luddenham.

Celestino also proposed that the NSW government establish a “footprint” inside the technology park, via the “development of fully serviced commercial land for strategic government purposes”. The developer argued that a new Metro station would improve connections in the area and the science park is also expected to see “significant activation” by 2026.

The government said as the “sole owner” of the tech park site, Celestino was uniquely positioned to deliver an integrated and activated commercial and transport precinct.

Celestino’s submission said that employment would be greatly enhanced if a Metro station were located within science park.

The developer it would provide “significant benefits” for the Aerotropolis by “markedly increasing” the workforce catchment for businesses.

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