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Evaluating loading dock capacity in new developments

Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

Access to loading docks for freight and servicing operators is important to the urban design principles being pursued in our cities. The agreement and provision of loading dock capacity during building Development Approval processes is often a matter for contention between planning authorities and developers. This is demonstrated in cities across Australia and globally.

It is typically evident from Development Approval (DA) processes that there is poor understanding of freight activity and the city-shaping implications of making poor decisions. Authority’s models and methods that support this process are dated and are poorly applied.

This project seeks to provide an improved and reliable methodology for forecasting demand to establishing loading dock requirements in new developments. An aim of this project is ultimately to make a method accessible for use by stakeholders to assess a new development’s loading dock requirements in Sydney and other Australian cities.

The approach will lead to greater confidence between stakeholders within the DA process and better outcomes for our cities.


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Project background

Within NSW, and most notably within the urban centre of Metropolitan Sydney where land values are high, the provision of loading dock capacity is often a cause for contention between planning authorities and development proponents.

A building with inadequate loading dock facilities and capacity will be reliant on kerbside space adjacent to the building and generate broader negative externalities. This outcome does not align with cities place making plans for the urban environment.

Currently, the standard method to determine loading dock size/capacity in NSW relies on approval authorities either having stated quantities and formulas within their Development Control Plans (DCPs) or requiring a developer to refer to loading and servicing advice in the RTA Guide to Traffic Generating Developments, Roads and Traffic Authority, NSW (2002). This is advice is based on data collected in the 1970s to the 1990s and leads to some stakeholders not having great confidence in older data.

Transport for NSW already has tools developed in house that assist our evaluation of loading dock proposals in new developments. These tools will assist in informing this project.

Project objectives

Transport for NSW is seeking to collaborate with academic experts to improve the ability of current internal models.
By improving the models to be more robust, it presents the opportunity for the models to be suitable for broader use by transport planners involved in development approval processes of new buildings (in particular).
Ultimately the models might be used by approving authorities to enable a new and improved process in assessing buildings and their loading dock provision.
This aim will be achieved by:

  • Identifying a process to ensure the model approach is mathematically robust to ensure the validity of the outputs
  • Identifying a process to enable the easy addition of new data sets

It is considered that having robust models will that inspire confidence in stakeholders, and also provide them with greater understanding of freight activity servicing a building.

A user interface to this model is being pursued as a separate project.

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