Study of Dormancy and Proliferation in Outer West Centres – Sydney Basin

From Dormancy to Proliferation: A Model of Potential Property Proliferation in Dormant Areas of Sydney’s Outer-West Centres.

A Research Project by Dr Jonathan Drane, Sydney Graduate School of Management, Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia.

The Urban and Living Society Institute Grant Scheme 2017

By Dr Jonathan Drane


This research studies outer west centres in the Sydney basin to understand and chart dormant town areas and their potential to proliferate new developments. One page flyer (pdf):

Outer West Dormancy Study – Drane 2017


The policy engine rooms of infrastructure, employment, affordability and urban consolidation guide the growth of Sydney towards its burgeoning population centre; the outer west. However ‘wholesale city basin’ planning approaches guided by economic and demographic meta-data do less to understand the reluctance of the city’s outer west centres to respond proportionately to this stimulus especially in their dormant and semi-dormant city areas.

Dormant city areas and dead spots continue to haunt many of our burgeoning, high growth cities and the outer west centres do not escape the same phenomena. Former port lands, ‘brownfield’ sites and degraded suburban areas persist in these states for what appears to be decades without any apparent revival. Despite the usual forms of planning, zoning and controls, they appear to display obstinacy over large time periods that continue to confound local and state planning authorities and leaders.

This research draws on the existing doctoral study (Author 2014) of several dormant cityscapes across the Sydney Basin as well as two regional cities (Newcastle and Townsville) and their revival of dormant cityscapes, to bring a clearer understanding to the nature and dynamics of dormancy. The cityscapes are viewed through a time-lapse, mechanistic view by charting of stimulus events over several decades to identify the often invisible forces at work.

The models and analytical tools arising from this existing work will be applied to undertake a micro-study of three key outer western city centres: e.g. Penrith, Camden and Campbelltown. The results will provide further reinforcement of a Dormancy-Proliferation model for use as a foundation for future planning and policy decisions.

At city basin planning level the often urgent political reliance on lineal, visible change will be augmented and go beyond such ‘meta-views’ along with the predominant use of the economic/demographic lens to view our cities. Introduced, will be a view of not only artefactual indicators but the invisible markers of change. This, along with a mechanistic ‘time-lapse’ view is used as a means of enhancing our knowledge of dormancy periods.

The study enhances our understanding of dormancy and the historical timelines that they operate under. In this way a revisionist view of this phenomenon informs planners and city leaders to understand dormancy and its revitalization, which goes beyond political urgencies.

Study Objectives

A micro-study of dormant city areas and their potential to proliferate large scale property development projects and a resultant proliferation assessment model/matrix.


The study enhances our understanding of dormancy and the historical timelines that it operates under. In this way a revisionist view of this phenomenon informs planners and city leaders to understand dormancy and its revitalization, which goes beyond political urgencies and allows for revised planning perspectives

 Proposed Study Fields

e.g.  Penrith, Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly

Study Method

Case Study, Historical Analysis, Semi-structured interview reinforcing the author’s existing explanatory ‘dormancy -> proliferation model’. The study draws on the author’s existing doctoral study and models of dormancy in regional city areas and the Sydney Basin. Including City West Development ( Sydney)  Honeysuckle Development (Newcastle) and  Palmer Street Precinct (Townsville).

Concept Paper for Outer West Dormancy-Proliferation Research accepted at SOAC 2017

A concept paper relating to the research has been accepted for the State of Australian Cities Conference 2017 to be held in Adelaide in 28 to 30th, November 2017. The paper uses an analytical framework drawn from the research to date on Honeysuckle, Palmer St and other precincts and provides a discussion of the state of transition of Penrith’s central car park. It is intended that a similar analysis be done for the other outer west centres as part of the research moving forward. The article title is as follows:

Dormancy in two regional cities and its relevance to the growth of Western Sydney,(The cases of Honeysuckle, Newcastle; Palmer Street, Townsville and Penrith) Dr Jonathan Drane, Western Sydney University, Sydney Graduate School of Management

See our web page for the concept paper.

Initial Research Workshop October 2017:

A ( free) workshop which is designed to define this  research project was held on Wednesday 25th October 2017 at the Werrington Launch Pad, Ground Floor, Werrington Park Corporate Centre,Werrington South Western Sydney University Campus, 14 Great Western Highway, Kingswood, NSW 2747.

The proceedings and outcomes of the initial workshop are covered in our workshop page for this research.

For further details

Contact Dr Jonathan Drane:


Articles and News Items

Related News/Blog Articles on Growth Characteristics in the Outer West

The Outer West Collection: Articles on the outer west of Sydney and its growth characteristics.

Penrith Weekender 2015
‘Penrith of the Future’

Daily Telegraph  2015
Penrith is experiencing growing pains

Read The City Whisperer News:


Research Sites – Jonathan Drane

Jonathan’s Linked In Profile

Read The City Whisperer News


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