The state's leading town planners and industry experts converged on Parkes last week for an 'enquiry by design' (EBD) workshop led by the NSW Government's Department of Planning, on behalf of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, to develop the masterplan for a Special Activation Precinct in Parkes.

Special Activation Precincts (SAP) are a new way of helping business establish in specific regional locations in NSW. Each location is chosen for its unique regional offering, services and competitive advantage.

The Parkes Special Activation Precinct is the first to be declared in NSW and is designed to take advantage of the unique economic opportunities of its strategic location at the epicentre of the national freight and logistics network. Efficient transport with inland port capabilities will be the catalyst for export orientated business to add value to the region's produce.

General Manager Parkes Shire Council, Kent Boyd said "It has been a long-term vision of the Parkes Shire Community to develop Parkes as a National Logistics Hub and Inland Port, and the Special Activation Precinct will provide the impetus to advance this vision."

Held across five days, the dynamic EBD workshops were facilitated with the purpose of delivering a quality draft masterplan informed by extensive technical investigations and expert industry knowledge.

Parkes Shire Council's Director Infrastructure, Andrew Francis said, "one notable speaker was Associate Professor Ali Abbas of Sydney University, whose insight on Industrial Eco Parks and circular economy principles considerably influenced the design development."

The investigation area to the west of Parkes encompasses over 5,000 hectares that centres around the east-west rail and new north-south inland rail intersection.

The process took into account data and research from recent technical studies conducted by the NSW Government, along with other reports, findings and points-of-view from industry experts and urban designers. A series of community engagement events also took place in Parkes to connect with landholders and other community stakeholders to gauge their visions, considerations and expectations of such development.

The outputs were then modelled in different scenarios which were tested in real time using GIS technology to deliver an interactive 3D video version of the masterplan, which provided a better understanding of the scale, size and design of the precinct.

"We are excited to be a part of this game changing development, designing and planning a precinct for the future of the Parkes community and in fact the wider Central NSW region that will enable business and create jobs and growth for our future," said Kent.

The next steps for the NSW Department of Planning will be to further refine the masterplan design and workshop outputs with an aim to have the final masterplan design ready for public exhibition in July.

A new State Environmental Planning Policy that streamlines planning approvals for development within the Parkes Special Activation Precinct will also be designed and submitted for public exhibition.