Planning for the Ashmore precinct

The planning process

Located in Erskineville and on the border of Alexandria, the Ashmore precinct is one of the City of Sydney’s biggest urban development projects.

The planning controls for Ashmore have been developed over a number of years in close consultation with the community and landowners. We want sustainable and responsible development that meets the needs of a growing population but respects and protects the character of surrounding suburbs. The current planning controls for the site are the Sydney Local Environment Plan (LEP) 2012 and the Sydney Development Control Plan 2012 (Sydney DCP).

The vision for the site

The Sydney DCP outlines the vision for Ashmore. It will be a mainly residential area within the suburb of Erskineville. Terraces, townhouses and apartments will be fronted by tree-lined streets and residents will be able to make use of a new network of pedestrian and bike routes to get to work, shops and the city. A retail area with cafés and a small supermarket will be next to a new large park, providing a focal point for residents of this new neighbourhood to relax and socialise.

Key DCP guidelines are:

  • Building design that is sustainable and innovative, which respects the character of surrounding areas and provides a range of dwelling types.
  • Staging to ensure that all development sites, within the overall precinct, can develop independently without adverse impacts on neighbouring areas.
  • The buildings to be designed so as not to overshadow adjacent properties or block city views from Sydney Park.
  • A quality public domain with a new large park and attractive tree-lined streets.
  • Pedestrian, cycle and traffic links to the city, public transport and local facilities.
  • Traffic management for a safe residential environment.
  • Critical infrastructure elements to manage stormwater.
  • Ashmore location

Meeting new targets

In 2007, the City embarked on the process to develop new planning controls for the whole City of Sydney local area. As part of this process, a study was done in Erskineville and Alexandria that included Ashmore. This study looked at opportunities to increase building heights and densities to meet housing targets set by the NSW Government’s Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036 and the City’s Sydney 2030 plan. The planning controls for Ashmore are:

  • building heights of mostly 5 to 7 storeys, with a maximum of 8 storeys
  • floor-space ratios from 1.5:1 to 1.75:1 across the precinct
  • 15,000 square metres of open space including a central park of 7,400sqm
  • a rationalised street network.

Design excellence

Sydney LEP 2012 promotes design excellence to achieve high quality architectural, urban and landscape design, particularly in prominent development and across large sites like Ashmore. An important mechanism to ensure development demonstrates design excellence is through a competitive design process, intended to facilitate a variety of design options for a site.

The LEP establishes an incentive for undertaking a design competition, offering up to an additional 10% height or floor-space ratio. In Ashmore, Sydney DCP indicates where this additional height may be located, having regard to impact on district views, street scene, overshadowing and surrounding lower scale areas.

Technical studies

A number of studies have been undertaken to inform the planning controls for Ashmore.

The urban design study looked at appropriate building heights and types for Ashmore, staging of development, economic viability and the context of the development. The review recommended Ashmore precinct should incorporate a variety of building types and heights, reduce the impact of building at street level and provide designated open space. As a result, the planning controls have a predominant building height of 5 and 6 storeys, lower building heights near conservation areas and a floor-space ratio ranging from 1.5 to 1.75:1.

The social sustainability study looked at how to ensure Ashmore becomes a socially sustainable precinct. The study has 5 key areas of focus:

  • a range of housing options
  • good transport connections
  • quality open spaces
  • accessible community facilities
  • unique sense of place.

From these principles the planning controls ensure the precinct will have 15,000 square metres of open space, sites that could provide child care facilities, diversity through a range of dwelling types, and a strong local identity through public art and park and street names that reflect the history of the site.

The traffic and parking study assessed current transport and traffic conditions in the area, and the potential impacts of Ashmore on the local road network and on-street parking. The study found that when Ashmore is fully developed the local road network in the morning peak will not be able to support vehicle demand. The City needs to continue working with the NSW government to improve public transport connections in the area.

Infrastructure for the future

The successful transformation of Ashmore must be accompanied by an appropriate level of infrastructure to support the existing and new community. This includes social infrastructure such as schools, child care, health services and  libraries, and hard infrastructure such as public transport, traffic management and stormwater management.

To prepare for Ashmore’s changing future the City has prepared a plan to identify required infrastructure, available for download below.

The infrastructure plan includes timeframes for delivery, the responsible agency and, where possible, costs.

Key findings include:

  • recent public transport upgrades will need further improvement by 2017
  • the Ashmore area has a higher proportion of children than others across the local area with an undersupply of child care facilities
  • stormwater management infrastructure upgrades are needed but funds are yet to be allocated.

Council and the Central Sydney Planning Committee have endorsed the Ashmore infrastructure plan for use in continuing discussions with relevant NSW Government agencies such as Transport NSW and the Department of Education.

It will be updated over time to ensure infrastructure programming can be put in place before developments are completed and occupied.

New public domain

The City has engaged AECOM to undertake the design of the public domain (streets, cycleways, footpaths and so on) and landscape plans including a design for the new 7,400sqm park – McPherson Park.

Further detail will be established during the development assessment process.

AECOM’s work also identifies new landscaping opportunities including new trees to be planted, both within the streets and in open spaces.

Improving biodiversity

The redevelopment of Ashmore provides an opportunity to greatly increase the number of trees in the area. Currently there is very little green space/cover in the precinct and it is unfortunate that some trees along the boundaries of the precinct will need to be removed to facilitate development.

However, all new development is required to provide a 3m landscaped setback that will provide understorey planting, and the new streets and parks will contain street trees. This landscaping will provide more habitat for small birds, such as fairy wrens and New Holland honeyeaters, reptiles and invertebrates.

Incorporating landscaped setbacks will also provide for greatly improved biodiversity corridors within the precinct and create new links with the railway corridor, and Sydney Park.

Tree removal

Generally the City does not like to remove existing trees, in line with the City’s urban forest strategy. Tree removal requires planning permission. All applications are assessed against the following factors:

  • health/condition – to assess whether there are any structural issues or defects with the tree
  • age and species type – to assess whether the tree is at the end of its expected life
  • the amenity and landscape in the immediate area, size of tree canopy and an assessment of what the potential loss would be
  • the location and relevance of the site against the City’s other strategies and policies
  • whether there is a tree replacement strategy.

The rationale behind any recommended tree removal is usually discussed in an officer's report to Council (or Central Sydney Planning Committee) during the assessment process.


In heavy rain events parts of Ashmore can be affected by flooding, particularly at the intersection of Coulson Street and Mitchell Road. To alleviate flooding, new and greater capacity drainage infrastructure – including pipework, swales and a detention basin – will be incorporated within the new street network and public open space design.

New development will also be designed to minimise risk and damage from flood waters. This is usually done by establishing appropriate level to which the ground floor of the building must be constructed, and this may influence overall building height. Find our more about stormwater management.


John Davies
Specialist Planner
02 9265 9333


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Last updated: Monday, 24 August 2015