The Opportunities and Future Transformation of Western Sydney

Over 3 million people are expected to live in Western Sydney by 2031. This means more residential, commercial and transport structures will be built in this high-growth region. This is to house the growing population, create the places of business and enable the efficient movement of freight, employees and passengers.

The Western Sydney Airport is just the start. Set to open in 2026 and projected to support almost 28,000 direct and indirect jobs, the area will be a growth centre for building structures and transport networks. The Australian Government is investing up to $5.3 billion in equity and expect private investors to flock in as the airport is being constructed.

In addition, this huge project is paving the way for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis. This aerotropolis will be a hub for huge industries such as aerospace, healthcare, freight and logistics, education and agribusiness. Over 200,000 new jobs will be created for the core industries and adjacent businesses (e.g. recreational facilities for residents, professional services for businesses).

What does this mean for developers and construction firms?

Project opportunities will be especially plenty in the Western Sydney region. Structures and links will have to be built or upgraded to facilitate economic activity in the area. For instance, the Bringelly Road is being upgraded (expected to be completed in 2020) to enable efficient travel between Camden Valley and The Northern Road.

Construction of new links and roads is also needed to enable efficient movement among the locations. For example, the M12 Motorway is under the planning stage and construction is expected to commence in early 2020s (the project is expected to be completed in 2026). This is vital because the M12 Motorway will directly connect the Sydney’s motorway network to the Western Sydney Airport.

Residential, commercial, industrial and healthcare structures will also be built to house the residents, employees, equipment and businesses. The plan is to make the region have a high level of liveability and protect the ecology as much as possible. After all, progress is not real if there’s no commitment to sustainability. Also, areas with local heritage and ecology are often considered more liveable and desirable.

All the structures and links should be strategically placed to minimise movement. Longer and frequent travel results to road congestions and this also leads to productivity losses (instead of doing something productive the people are stuck in traffic). Teams of experts have conducted studies to maximise the efficiency and opportunities in Western Sydney.

This requires a thorough understanding of the terrain and the evolution of the region. Earlier we mentioned that over 3 million people are expected to live in Western Sydney by 2031 (it’s just almost a decade ahead). We have to make sure that the places and structures won’t be too crowded even during peak hours. We also have to think about the entry and presence of vehicles that will be going to and from the Western Sydney Airport. It’s also important to think about what kind of businesses and the future consumption patterns in the region.

Understanding the terrain

That’s about the evolution and future development in the region. What about the terrain and the unique features of Western Sydney?

Here we have to think about the elevation and the climate. We have to consider the amounts of rainfall (especially the frequency of rain and extreme values) and how the water flows through the region. Areas with good elevation won’t experience much flooding. In contrast, low-lying areas will accumulate the rain (the water has to go somewhere). Together with the terrain, we also have to consider the water consumption in the area (the outflow of wastewater from residential and commercial structures).

It’s impossible to be certain about the future but with historical data we can still get useful estimates. For example, the average February rainfall in Parramatta is 124.8 mm. Prediction models can be activated to know the effect of that kind of rainfall on the area (as well as how the water flows in and out of the region). Researchers and developers can also estimate the effect of outliers (e.g. above-average amount of rainfall concentrated in a few hours). This way they get a better estimate of the flood risk and how to prepare the structures for such scenarios. For instance they can make the drainage and sewerage systems in high-risk and flood-prone areas much more resilient than the low-risk ones.

To make such assessments and estimates, a flood survey is valuable to help ensure that the investment is safe (e.g. residential and commercial developments). Experienced surveyors can look into relevant records and seek information from authorities to determine the flood risk in the area. They will also perform a comprehensive site inspection to know the specific level of risk relating to the property or structure being built.

A flood survey is becoming more valuable because rainfall amounts (and the frequency and occurrence of rain) is getting more unpredictable. Even if the area is earlier considered as low risk, the unpredictability introduces a higher level of risk to the property. Also, local councils might only issue building approvals if the proposed structure and its floor levels meet certain criteria based on flood level risks.

A topographic survey is also valuable (also referred to as contour survey) in assessing the risk. Surveyors determine the land levels based on sea level and then also use the information on recorded tide gauges (Australian Height Datum). Based on this assessment the flood expectancy can be estimated (e.g. expressed in 1:5 or a once in five years flood). Sufficient drainage and other countermeasures can then be designed and implemented to keep the property safe in case of heavy rainfall.

Importance of accuracy in surveys

Billions of dollars are being directed to the development of Western Sydney, which is why it’s important that accurate surveys are conducted to maximise the opportunities and make sure that the funds are really being used wisely.

As a result, the flood survey should be fairly accurate because floods can result to costly damages and even injuries and fatalities. This similarly applies to the survey for roads and civil works. These are large-scale projects wherein millimetres do matter. That’s why experienced surveyors (such as here in Geosurv) use state-of-the-art robotic Total Stations and Global Navigation Satellite Systems together with the latest civil engineering and design software. This is to minimise the errors and inconsistencies in planning out the huge-scale project.

Aside from accuracy, cost control is also important in infrastructure projects with a similar scale as that of the Western Sydney Airport. For instance, bulk earthwork surveys are performed to determine actual earthwork quantities against design quantities (extent of cuts and fills, and batter slopes), identification of lots and layers for embankment fill, calculating volumes of cuts and embankment fill. This is valuable in estimating and verifying the labour and machinery operational costs. This also helps in reducing the import of the unnecessary earthwork quantities (e.g. the necessary quantities might be acquired from the site itself). It’s an important preliminary work (e.g. on September 2018 early earthworks were done in the planned Western Sydney Airport) which requires accuracy from the start to save on costs.

Aside from the surveys and preliminary works, the actual construction itself is also a huge opportunity for saving costs. One such way for higher cost savings is the use of precast concrete panels. Instead of the traditional pouring and setting on site, the panels are installed thereby leading to faster project completion and lower labour costs. In addition, the use of precast concrete panels also results to better and consistent quality and integrity of the structure.

Here at Geosurv we have the technical experts that are dedicated to setting out and managing the erection of precast panels. Our services include panel and dowel location set out, cross checking of precast panel plans and on-site measurements, set out and installation of ferrules prior to pouring of slab, monitoring of verticality of panels on multi storey high-rise buildings and more.

Geosurv also takes care of the surveying for residential, commercial, civil and government infrastructure projects. Since 2005 we have established ourselves as one of the leading surveying firms in Australia. In fact, we now have a strong presence in Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, Wollongong, Albury, Brisbane and the Gold Coast (and we have plans to extend our reach to Victoria and WA). Contact us today and our professional team will thoroughly study your requirements. We have already handled a variety of surveying projects across Australia.

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