PARRAMATTA'S GROWING LEGAL PRECINCT
Sitting alongside the commercial district of Parramatta’s CBD is a legal precinct with a long history that’s set to grow with new premises for The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and longer-term plans for an expanded area.
The growth in Parramatta’s CBD is being driven by higher demand for commercial office space and the relocation of government services and departments which will occupy almost 200,000 square metres of office space with more than 10,000 additional workers in the CBD by 2022. But as the Government’s legal precinct of Parramatta grows, there will be demand for more office space to house support services like legal firms.
New NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
The plans include new premises for The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) which will have its own home in Parramatta, providing greater access to tribunal services in Western Sydney.
NCAT will reside in the existing premises at 9 George Street where Level 5 will be refitted. The $2.3 million premises in Parramatta will quadruple tribunal hearings in Western Sydney from five hearing days a week to 20 hearing days a week. In 2018/19, NCAT held nearly 4,300 hearings in Parramatta and 85,000 hearings in more than 75 locations across NSW.
The new state-of-the-art purpose-built facilities will include four hearing rooms equipped with high definition videoconferencing technology, five conciliation rooms, a registry, a public service counter and a waiting room.
The Parramatta Justice Precinct is located in the western part of the CBD. The precinct currently houses the corporate headquarters of the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice. Other legal offices include the Children's Court of NSW, the Sydney West Trial Courts, Legal Aid Commission of NSW, Office of Trustee and Guardian, NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as a branch of the Family Court.
Nearby on Marsden Street is the Parramatta Courthouse and a courthouse where the specialist Drug Court of NSW sits. The Garfield Barwick Commonwealth Law Courts Building houses courts of the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia.
Potential further expansion
The City of Parramatta Council is championing an innovative proposal to expand the Justice Precinct in the Parramatta CBD, bringing more than 2,200 legal jobs to the City and boosting the local economy by $350 million a year.
The Council is calling for an expansion of the Justice Precinct, a permanent Supreme Court presence in the City, development of a law school, and a legal innovation start-up incubator.
Currently, even though Parramatta is the second-largest legal centre in NSW, it makes up only five per cent of Greater Sydney’s legal jobs. Through the City’s expansion plans, it hopes to attract more barristers, solicitors, judges and judicial officers to the area.
“With the growth and transformation that Parramatta is experiencing, it makes sense that our justice precinct grows with it,” said the City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Councillor Bob Dwyer.
“Not only will an expanded justice precinct accommodate the needs of our growing population, but it will also help support and retain local legal talent and encourage new and innovative ways to improve the justice system.”
Councillor Dwyer said the investment in an expanded Parramatta CBD justice precinct is vital given the number of legal professionals living within 30 minutes of the city will almost double over the next 15 years, outlined in the proposal.
The City of Parramatta is expected to top one million square metres of office space by 2023. In that time, an extra 20,000 people will be working in the Parramatta CBD with key tenants such as the NSW Government, NAB, Westpac and QBE. An expanded legal precinct will complement the other growth with the City, and attract new tenants.