A voluntary planning agreement (VPA) in NSW is an agreement entered into by a planning authority (such as the Department of Planning and Environment) and a developer. Under the agreement a developer agrees to provide or fund community infrastructure as a contribution in return for development approval. This could be in the form of:

  • public amenities and public services
  • affordable housing
  • transport or other infrastructure.

Contributions can be made through:

  • dedication of land
  • monetary contributions
  • construction of infrastructure
  • provision of materials for public benefit and/or use.

In Sydney in 2014 an important VPA between the City of Sydney and the developers of The Greenland Centre was approved where a $25m creative hub has been included in a $439.5m CBD residential development.

The creative hub will provide space for Sydney’s creative sector in the form of rehearsal spaces and studios and would grant tenancy rights to the City for the use of the creative hub for a 99 year term.

Read The Greenland Centre DA

See following news article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

City tower to feature creative hub among the units in $25m deal

Part of Sydney’s tallest residential tower will be handed to the city’s creative community under a $25 million deal between its developer and the City of Sydney.

Soundproofed rooms for music rehearsals, editing suites for filmmakers and studios for visual artists will be among the facilities spread across five floors when the 67-storey Greenland Centre opens on the corner of Bathurst Street and Pitt Street in 2017.

The state-of-the-art ”creative hub”, to be built in exchange for floor space concessions, will be leased to the council for $1 a year for 99 years.

Big deal: The Greenland Centre. Photo: Supplied


Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore hailed the deal – which will deliver creative workspaces alongside 490 units selling off-the-plan for an average price of more than $1.5 million – as the first of its kind in Australia.

”This agreement sets an exciting precedent for world class, cultural facilities in private development,” Cr Moore said.

”We hope this will be the first of many agreements leading to much-needed creative space being incorporated into both new and existing development in the … city.”

Council’s executive manager of culture, Rachel Healy, said each of the five floors will be customised for the practice – rather than performance or exhibition – of the disciplines of dance, theatre, music, film and visual arts.

”So for example, the theatre and dance space is a double height rehearsal space,” she said. ”On the music floor … we have a suite of acoustically isolated studios.”

The 2000-square-metre area will also include an apartment for a creative fellowship program, and a office space for the peak artistic bodies that will manage and rent out the facilities.

Actor, producer and writer, Claudia Karvan, said facilities such as the the hub were ”the building blocks for Sydney’s future creative life”.

The executive director of the National Association for the Visual Arts, Tamara Winikoff, welcomed the hub.

”This initiative really paves the way for what we have been proposing for some time – that all developers for major developments or redevelopments should be allocating a portion of space for artistic purposes,” she said.

The deal arose out of what is known as a voluntary planning agreement, where a developer is granted concessions in exchange for a public benefit – in this case, one that was in line with the council’s new cultural policy.

The hub encloses the development’s above-ground parking on five of its lower floors, but is not counted towards to the total floor space its developer, Greenland Australia, was permitted to develop.

The council’s director of planning, Graham Jahn, said the agreement did not permit Greenland to build a higher tower, but one that was ‘‘maybe a metre wider’’ as it absorbed the floor space across other parts of the development.

NSW Govt Planning and Environment logo

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