Discover more about The Hills District.
With a $3 billion plan to transform Baulkham Hill’s Norwest Business Park into a smart city featuring apartments, retail spaces and up to 30,000 more new-age jobs, is the age of the city commute over? Not quite, says Tim Spencer, executive general manager of development firm Mulpha. But it’s a start.
“Sydney’s planning is now based on a polycentric model – i.e., different CBDs in one city – but even further diversification and flexibility is needed. The more empowered the community is to do things differently, like arrive and leave at different times or work from home, the more we can address congestion. It’s going to take a good decade.”
Developing this part of the state is not a new idea. Spencer points out that Mulpha’s Norwest project is the fourth evolution of the site. But its rebirth as a smart city caters to a new generation and workforce looking for enhanced work-life balance. The project hopes to seamlessly combine living, working and recreational spaces – comprising more than 50 hectares of activated public parks and plazas – with a vibrant social, food and entertainment culture. The community will be connected by 50 kilometres of intertwining paths and cycleways to encourage residents and workers to get active between precincts.
Mulpha has also engaged consultants to investigate smart-city innovations including driverless shuttles, a fully integrated transport strategy, installation of healthcare technology, off-grid energy options and high-speed public Wi-Fi. All of this ties in with Spencer’s vision of creating self-sustaining work culture to feed generations to come.
“Most of the jobs at Norwest are currently in knowledge-based industries – they’re professional and consultancy jobs. We’re looking at encouraging new-age jobs in entrepreneurial-thinking businesses. By expanding the job base, we can be innovative and keep up with the world.
“It’s a structured platform to offer the existing population, and a new one, a future where there is career diversity. We’re not relying on old-school jobs that, quite frankly, could well be automated in the years to come.”
Norwest’s attraction from a development perspective is a simple one: The Hills is perfectly positioned physically to Parramatta, Hornsby and the Sydney CBD. It’s also poised to benefit from the Sydney Metro Northwest rail link and the Western Sydney Airport, slated to open in 2026.
“Sydney has changed and its business centre has changed,” says Spencer. “On a planning level, everyone looks down and wonders where the next great opportunity lies. Norwest is that opportunity.”