New West Sydney Aerotropolis Gives Rare Opportunity to Design New City

What would you include in the 30 minute city?


It is not every day you get the opportunity (or rather challenge) to design a new city from scratch. While Auckland is approaching this stage with Southern Auckland (another blog post will cover this) over in Sydney, the New South Wales State Government has presented the opportunity with the planned construction of Badgerys Creek Airport out in Sydney’s west. The idea with Badgerys Creek Airport is to give Sydney a second large international airport that is not constrained by night curfew rules the current congested Sydney International Airport has out at Botany Bay.

The eventual construction of this new airport out in Sydney’s west means the development of supporting industry which will have residential and commercial following that soon after. The result? A new city that will need to be connected to Sydney City Centre, Parermatta CBD, and Penrith (the closest major sub-regional centre to Badgerys Creek Airport).


International consultants GHD had set about a challenge on how you would design this new future city out at Badgerys Creek (while connecting it back to existing Greater Sydney).


Even though I do not reside in Sydney I though what the heck and decided to give it a go anyway:


First things first as with Cities Skylines is get down your primary transport spines that your urban development spawns off:


Badgerys Creek Airport Transport spines
Badgerys Creek Airport Transport spines. Click for full resolution. Solid Line = Heavy Rail (passenger and/or freight) Dashed Line = Highway or motorway


Initially using heavy rail and highways I connected Badgerys Creek Airport up to existing Centres (and their transport lines) Liverpool, Penrith and Parramatta (a second CBD in Sydney). I also ‘built’ a highway and rail spur to the south-west where I would establish heavy industry (and a water treatment plant) as industry decamps from the east and goes west (sound familiar with Auckland and Onehunga). Finally I drew in two sets of planned extensions for both road and rail going north and south that would eventually connect up with existing inter-regional transport links.


Once the transport spines were built-in deciding where to place the urban stuff and its supporting infrastructure was next up. THAT was a challenge just as (and again) it is in Cities Skylines if you do not want your new city to fall over.


My new Badgerys Creek Airport City
My new Badgerys Creek Airport City



Badgerys Creek Airport annotated
Badgerys Creek Airport annotated

You can click the pictures for full resolution.


The airport is the nexus or focus to which all other urban development spawns off from there (rather than say a City Centre). With that in mind and the transport lines laid down I began as I would with Cities Skylines by placing down where industry would go. Light industry clusters around an airport (logistics) so that was easy to place that down. Heavy industry (along with water and power infrastructure) went in next following the south-west spur keeping it away from the commercial core to the east of the Airport. Remember the industry is linked to the rail system so passengers and freight can use it to avoid the roads.

Transport interchanges were next to go in with three placed in the area with one at Badgerys Creek Airport and the other two allowing connections between the new rail line and the existing lines at Liverpool and Penrith East. High density residential, commercial and office space were zoned in creating Transit Orientated Development clusters around these transport interchanges. Medium density developments were placed surrounding the high density clusters with low density residential placed further out from there or in areas believed unable to support higher density development due to either environmental or transport pressures.

With all that done I began placing cultural, specialist business and even an urban agriculture hub to the east.


In the end what has been planned is hopefully a near self-sufficient city with the airport as the nexus point and both connected into Greater Sydney via road and especially rail.


Closer to home Auckland is also presented the opportunity and challenge of a new city of sorts with Southern Auckland looking at taking the bulk of residential and employment growth for at least the next ten years (West Auckland also a contender as well). Although with Southern Auckland there is some retrofitting through urban regeneration especially with its core (the Transform Manukau area). Remember like Badgerys Creek we are trying to create a 30 minute city. That is most employment and recreational needs are within 30 minutes of a home.


Public transport Manukau Source: MRCagney
Public transport Manukau
Source: MRCagney
Manukau South Link catchment close up by Saeid Adli Link:
Manukau South Link catchment close up by Saeid Adli


30 minutes from Auckland City Centre brings you to Manukau City Centre on the rail network but no further south. 30 minutes from Manukau City Centre by road or rail (if the Manukau South Rail Link is built and operational) brings you to Pukekohe (so capturing the entire Southern Future Urban Zone).

Southern Rural Urban Boundary with Future urban zones in yellow
Southern Rural Urban Boundary with Future urban zones in yellow


Auckland faces similar pressures to Sydney. Sydney is trying to relieve these pressures through Paramatta and Badgerys Creek. Auckland will or should be trying through Manukau and Franklin (as well as out west when their rapid transit system is fully on stream). Consequently this will need some different approaches to our planning to handle this.