Public open space is a form of green infrastructure that enhances the character of the Central City District’s neighbourhoods, supports healthy and active lifestyles, and brings communities together. As the District grows, providing for and developing innovative ways to optimise open space areas for recreation, sport and social activities, as well as establishing physical links that support social networks and create a sense of community, will become increasingly important. Connected walking and cycling trails will maximise their use.
The key considerations for planning open space are quality, quantity and distribution. The Greater Sydney Green Grid will help improve access and distribution. In existing urban areas there will be relatively few opportunities to increase the quantity of public open space. Therefore, greater emphasis will be needed on improving the quality and distribution of open space, including sporting facilities.
Councils already identify innovative solutions for the shortfall in active open space, including making better use of existing sportsgrounds, converting existing open space into sports fields, and partnering with schools to share spaces outside school hours.
Urban renewal also creates opportunities to increase the quantity of open space. Planning for urban renewal needs to consider opportunities to deliver new, improved and accessible open space, including spaces for active sport and recreation, that meet the needs of the growing community. High density development (over 60 dwellings per hectare) should be located within 200 metres of quality open space and all dwellings should be within 400 metres of open space.
People in urban neighbourhoods should be able to walk to local open space. In high density neighbourhoods, public open space is used like a shared backyard, providing a green communal living space. Open space in high density neighbourhoods need to be durable, multipurpose and accessible to a wide variety of users. High density neighbourhoods also need to have high quality open space within close proximity.
In local and strategic centres, local open space is important to provide places for workers to relax and for people to meet and socialise. It also provides for tree and vegetation planting in the centre.
Within the land release areas of the District, provision will need to be made to accommodate new open space areas to fulfil the wide needs of the community – from local playgrounds to sportsgrounds.
Place-based planning can identify opportunities to improve the quality, management and use of existing open space, and to provide new open space.
Thirteen per cent of the Central City District is open space (refer to Figure 26). There are pockets of high quality open space such as the Western Sydney Parklands, Millennium Parklands, Duck Creek Open Space Corridor and Rouse Hill Regional Park that cater for the active recreation and open space needs of the District’s communities.
Additional open space areas and sports and recreation facilities and innovative use of existing ones will be required to accommodate the needs of the growing population, especially in areas where residential density is increasing. This will be important in and around strategic centres and Planned Precincts in order to alleviate pressure on existing open space. Replacement fields and facilities are required to accommodate growing demand. Demand for nature-based recreation will need to be managed to minimise impacts on biodiversity.
Figure 26: Central City District access to open space
Where the future of any larger spaces used for activities such as golf courses are uncertain, due to declining membership and attendance figures, any land or facilities in public ownership should be retained as open space and transitioned to shared open space and facilities, including for organised sports. For land in private ownership, there may be opportunities for part of the land to be repurposed or set aside for open or shared spaces. Open space within school grounds is a potential asset that could be shared by the wider community outside of school hours.
Other opportunities to create greater recreational capacity across the District include non-traditional methods such as rooftop gardens and recreational areas; shared use of open spaces currently inaccessible due to private use or being enclosed; and innovative approaches to planning for and using pocket parks.
The District’s waterways provide opportunities for passive and active open space. For example, Prospect Reservoir has the potential to become a valuable recreational location. It is a magnificent 520-hectare water body with an adjacent nature reserve around its northern perimeter and the Western Sydney Parklands nearby. There could be opportunities to enhance and activate the recreational areas along the waterfront and integrate the Reservoir into the wider Western Sydney Parklands tourism precinct.
Protecting and enhancing existing access to natural landscapes, parks and sportsgrounds can encourage more active lifestyles. Liveability outcomes will also be enhanced with greater sharing of sports and community facilities across the District.
The Government Architect NSW is developing an open space toolkit, a resource for councils to use for open space planning.