Why The Western Sydney Aerotropolis is a Bad Idea!

Western Sydney Aerotropolis Render
Western Sydney Aerotropolis Render - Source: Woods bagot

Sometimes non-biased opinions are needed to give the public some perspective so here is our 2 cents on the idea to create a Western Sydney Aerotropolis 60km from our current CBD.

A few days ago the government released a plan with details on the Western Sydney Aerotropolis City which aims to be a connected city in Sydney’s West where it will be only approximately 3km south of the Western Sydney Airport in an area which is currently called Bringelly & is cow paddocks.

While this “vision” is very interesting & the concept designs look awe-inspiring, the truth is no one is going to want to live in this city. After asking roughly 20 people on the streets of Sydney if they would move out that far from the city with the knowledge that they may not be able to find a job in their respective field, all of them said no.

The truth is, while it is good in theory to have a well-connected city on the far fringes of the Sydney metropolitan area, the practicality of it simply will not work without a high-speed rail connection to the Sydney CBD.

Western Sydney Aerotropolis Render
Western Sydney Aerotropolis Render - Source: Woods bagot

Why would people choose to live 60km from the Sydney CBD? the simple answer is affordability which means the demographics of the area will be mostly made up of people who earn a lot less. Many would live closer to the city if they could afford the prices since that is where the majority of the high paying jobs within the Sydney region are located. These jobs are located mostly in urban centres such as the Sydney CBD, Chatswood, North Sydney, Macquarie Park, Rhodes & Parramatta.

However by building up the Western Sydney Aerotropolis area to be a financial centre with the WTC & other big business you then risk the area again becoming unaffordable to the average person, so the question is who would want to live next to a noisy airport which lacks amenities & is 60km from the city with many tolls along the way, in comparison to the Sydney CBD which is a stones throw from the best universities & beaches the city has to offer?

The problem with this idea is that it is too close to Sydney to be its own separate economic city & risks being another satellite commuter city like Gosford or Penrith yet not far enough to create its own ecosystem where locals will start a business which could truly serve the region. A good example of this is Newcastle & how it is thriving, as it is a far enough distance from the Sydney CBD to deter people from travelling there & instead choosing Newcastle as their preference.

While there may be a segment of people who want to ‘escape the rate race’, the truth is that most would not be escaping a rate race with the amount of housing projected to be built (approx. population of 300,000) whilst having to deal with the pollution & noise from a busy international airport right next to you.

The Sydney World Trade Centre (WTC) should be built in the Sydney CBD, where it belongs & where people around the world want to actually go.

When you forgo a lot of commercial buildings in suburban centres for decentralisation, what you potentially sacrifice is building up your respective CBD (the Sydney downtown CBD) to actually compete on a global level.

Western Sydney Aerotropolis Render
Western Sydney Aerotropolis Render Aerial City View - Source: Woods bagot

In this regard, Melbourne is centralising by building in there core CBD area & creating what will soon be a bigger downtown CBD core than the Sydney CBD. This could potentially lead to Melbourne overtaking the mantle from Sydney as the premier city to do business in a few decades from now, especially when you consider that Melbourne’s population is expected to overtake Sydney’s in a few decades from now.

The decentralised city can be avoided in Sydney if a proper transport system is built connecting all major suburban centres!

Also all the above issues could be solved if the government built a High-Speed Rail Line linking the Western Sydney Aerotropolis to Parramatta & the Sydney CBD, however there has been no mention of such as system & instead the best we can hope for in the near term is the Sydney Metro West being extended from Westmead to the Airport via Prairiewood & potentially the Aerotropolis.

Western Sydney Aerotropolis Street View
Western Sydney Aerotropolis Street View - source: Woods Bagot

Of course, it would not be an opinion nor fair to critisize an idea without a potential solution so here it is:

Create a new city on the NSW coast (ideally between Ulladulla & Batemans Bay) where you can still provide all of the joys of Australian life (great beaches, rivers, waterfalls, etc) & save a lot of money on infrastructure via building on greenfield sites & by putting it in place before the population to ensure land costs are low.

Installing a brand new metro, light rail system, ring road’s & expressways before the populations come in, ensures an efficient system which will not be choked by congestion & truly gives residents an option to live in a brand new modern city in Australia rather than just an ‘urban extension’ of an existing city which has the potential to cause more congestion & provides dis-economies of scale when the need arises to travel to other parts of Sydney.

What are your thoughts on creating a brand new modern city in a truly amazing part of the country right between our major capital cities (Sydney, Melbourne & Canberra)? Would you move there if you knew you could get an affordable property, with great access to transport whilst at the same time providing a true lifestyle change from Sydney?


  1. I note that you assume that an ‘aerotropolis’, if successful, would once more drive prices to unafordable levels. I doubt this very much. The only reason anyone would live near a 24/7 airport in front of a pollution trapping escarpment is because it’s cheap as chips & they can’t afford anywhere else. This is the usual trend around airports. Sydney airport is a special case because the surrounding area is so close to the city & the beaches. WSA would have none of that. The things that do make the area attractive are the very things that will be destroyed by the airport:
    Large open spaces, acreage, bush, peace and quiet.
    That said, the other problem remains – we’re talking about people who could rarely afford to fly, if at all. Business will not give up the prestige of Sydney to set up in a working class zone. The Greater Sydney Commission admitted as much, which is why their job aims for the ‘eastern city’ are for high paid finance, but for the aerocrapolis, warehouses. Airlines likewise. See the comments on this by Qatar airways. Qantas, likewise says it would only be used by ‘budget airlines’ (ie not Qantas). As for other airlines, they’ll only admit this ‘off the record’.
    The chance that this aerocrapolis will come anywhere near the fantastical predictions being made a miniscule. Much more likely it will be a financial failure, propped up by government subsidies for decades. Even the airline industry lobyist inventer of the aerocrapolis said they’d probably have to PAY airlines to use it!
    There’s a much better way.