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Study shows how City of Sydney's vision aims to put people first

The study, based on international best practice and data tracking, aims to further the vision of a city centre with quality public spaces, major new squares and more room for walking, cycling and relaxing.

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Botany Road vision. Image: City of Sydney, Concept by Studio Zanardo, Gallagher Studio & MAKO Architecture
Botany Road vision. Image: City of Sydney, Concept by Studio Zanardo, Gallagher Studio & MAKO Architecture

The City of Sydney has released a new study that will help the City progress development of its new long-term strategic plan, Sustainable Sydney 2050, towards a “more attractive and liveable city”.

 

Quality public spaces

 

Based on international best practice and data tracking, Public Space and Public Life by urban design firm Gehl, the analysis furthers its vision of a city centre that puts people first with new quality public spaces. This includes three major new squares and more room for walking, cycling and relaxing.

 

“We’re looking beyond traffic and basic infrastructure to create a city people want to live, visit, work and spend time in,” said lord mayor Clover Moore.

 

“The pandemic has thrown a spotlight on how critical quality outdoor public space and active transport links are. It has also shown that through strong partnerships between all levels of government, businesses and the community, we can transform our city.

 

She continued: “Cities need to be enjoyable to walk through and relax in. More quality public space, or outdoor living rooms where people can meet and socialise, supports a healthier, more equitable and economically viable city centre.”

 

In 2007 the City commissioned Gehl to help it progress on this path, and among the many recommendations it has carried through in the 14 years since include: 80,000 square metres of public space has been added to the City’s footprint; George Street is now a pedestrian boulevard; a light rail corridor was built with space for people to walk and sit; and lively city centre laneways are buzzing with diners and artworks.

“More quality public space, or outdoor living rooms where people can meet and socialise, supports a healthier, more equitable and economically viable city centre”

The new study outlines several issues facing the city centre. These include: cars dominating the streets; buses using too many roads; crowded footpaths; and the need to complete the City’s separated bike network. The report focuses on environmental sustainability and climate action, increasing space for walking and cycling and making the city welcoming for all.

Botany Road as it looks today. Image: City of Sydney
Botany Road as it looks today. Image: City of Sydney

Specific proposals include the creation of three public squares at Town Hall, Circular Quay and Central Station, a continuous harbour walk, and the transformation of some of the city’s busiest streets like York, Clarence, Pitt and Castlereagh, from traffic corridors to destinations.

 

Recommendations include:

 

A green and cool city

  • Continuing action in emissions control, waste, water and greening
  • Increasing tree canopy, greening, biodiversity and use of shade structures and awnings in the public domain
  • Improving links between the city, parklands and harbour.

A protected heart

  • Converting traffic-dominated streets to people friendly streets
  • Capitalising on Sydney Metro, train and light rail as the most efficient modes to move people around
  • Creating more space for walking and staying in the city
  • Connecting the city centre cycle network to other networks to encourage cycling
  • Rethinking the Western Distributor and the Cahill Expressway.

A city for all

  • Making the public domain more attractive to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds by providing welcoming spaces, creating more facilities for children, hosting events that underpin an inclusive city, promoting land use diversity, supporting a 24-hour city, closing streets at lunchtime, expanding the use of community buildings and ensuring free wifi access
  • Involving community and stakeholder groups in shaping outcomes for the public domain
  • Collecting public life data and evaluating public domain conditions to inform decision-making.

City identity

  • Utilising George Street as a spine linked by squares at Circular Quay, Sydney Town Hall and Central
  • Creating more space for people to move around and dwelling spaces for people to stay more comfortably in the city
  • Expanding on the pedestrianisation of George Street and making additional streets greener and pedestrian friendly
  • Supporting public art and creative expression that expresses Sydney’s identity and engages more people.

The lord mayor also revealed long-term plans for four new “green avenues” – arterial roadways identified for transformation with reduced traffic, increased tree plantings and space for people. The roads identified include Broadway, Park Street, Oxford Street and Botany Road.

“As changes transition from temporary measures to permanent design we must continue to champion cities for people as a true antidote to the many social, health and equity challenges we will continue to face”

“City centres are important and what were once considered radical ideas have been implemented with urgency over the past year,” added Jan Gehl, world-renowned Danish urban designer.

 

“We’ve been jolted into seeing what qualities our shared spaces – or lack thereof – truly provide for daily life and collective wellbeing. With this new, visceral perspective of place, we have better conditions for people, to walk, bike and gather in cities.

 

“As changes transition from temporary measures to permanent design we must continue to champion cities for people as a true antidote to the many social, health and equity challenges we will continue to face.”

 

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