An exciting opportunity awaits for agriculture as the Western Sydney Airport project gets underway with the potential for a world-leading agri precinct nearby.
The precinct would house people alongside intensive agricultural and manufacturing businesses that could link their products easily into world air freight connections.
The agri precinct model is being developed by world leading design and professional services company GHD.
GHD says the precinct in western Sydney would feature "extensive areas of restored Blue Gum habitat, the agri-precinct would support a population of approximately 25,000 and comprise 800 ha of agricultural land, more than 24 ha of solar developments and an extensive wind farm".
GHD has already worked on environmental studies for the airport project and has been engaged by business advisers Ernst and Young to collaborate with design and commercial aspects. The airport is under construction and due to open by 2026.
The Land was given a special briefing on GHD's plans. It includes an "integrated commercial and residential area, providing green energy and healthy lifestyle opportunities".
It's not clear yet how far GHD has progressed its plans with state and federal governments, and there appears to be some policy hurdles it needs to confront to convince governments of a long-term agricultural precinct vision.
GHD says its Western Sydney plan is scaleable and transportable and could also be built in regional areas close to transport links, including in places like Parkes, Dubbo or Tamworth. The businesses within the precinct can also be rapidly changed and have access to high data streams.
The agri precinct team within GHD started work on the concept six months ago and is keen to see it progress. Some of the team have strong experience in urban agriculture.
"This is scaleable," said GHD team leader Michael White. "It can be applied to regional areas such as Albury, Dubbo and Tamworth." It can include horticulture or aquaculture projects, bolstered by the need for world food security.
The precinct would also be data driven, working on new bigger and faster capacities with the 5G network. "This will only happen if we as a society want it to happen," one team member said.
Michael White added: "western Sydney will be major infrastructure play for a long time." "The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of global supply chains. After the disruption of lockdowns, communities may place higher value on self-sufficiency, health and wellbeing, and local amenities such as parks."
According to Lee Allen, Director of Urban Design & Landscape Architecture at design practice GHDWoodhead, the Western Parkland City being planned around Western Sydney Airport offers a unique opportunity for urban development that is both self-sufficient and sustainable. Designed by GHDWoodhead, the Agri-Precinct concept showcases how sustainability and self-sufficiency principles and the latest technologies can be incorporated to create an attractive and liveable urban precinct within the Western Parkland City.
"The concept was developed in response to the growing population in western Sydney and the current and planned investment in infrastructure," Lee explains. "This is an unprecedented opportunity to incorporate leading-edge sustainability measures into urban design from the outset, while also learning the lessons of COVID-19 about essential industries like food production and distribution. The Agri-Precint will focus on growing investment in agricultural innovations to create local jobs and foster a greater sense of local community. It will also include lots of green space, sporting fields, walking and cycling tracks for healthier lifestyles. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored just how important all of these things are."