This occurs through design and management of the street environment. The pattern and amount of road space allocated to pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and private vehicles and the speed of travel are important considerations. Where streets are destinations that people want to visit and spend time in – shopping, dining, meeting friends, waiting for transport or working – the design of the street environment affects the attractiveness, vitality and viability of a place.
Leading a healthy and active life means substituting walking and cycling for short car journeys. More people can be encouraged to walk and cycle where there is a safe road environment and suitable pathways (refer to Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan Customer Outcome 3). This requires better:
- Accessibility – footpaths need to be suitable for use by people of all ages and abilities.
- Connectivity – direct routes to local destinations and services are required along streets that allocate sufficient road space to safe walking and cycling. A permeable and well-connected urban form that has human scale and attractive streetscapes is required. In local streets with low traffic volumes safe cycling can be encouraged through design of the street environment for low vehicle speeds.
- Amenity – safe, direct and comfortable pedestrian pathways for all people are essential. Where footpaths, pedestrian crossings and wayfinding are of universal design, have appropriate lighting, shading, pram ramps, rest points and natural surveillance to maintain comfortable and safe conditions for pedestrians with mobility constraints, all of the community benefits and people are able to be more active and healthy.
In addition, provision of fine grain urban form and land use mix through the co-location of schools, retail services and transport infrastructure in local centres will contribute to enhanced walkability as well as the viability of, and access to, great places, centres and public transport.
Transport for NSW is also establishing the Principal Bicycle Network, which will connect centres with high quality cycling routes.
Local centres include many of the District’s great places, from clusters of local shops and vibrant main streets such as those at Strathfield and Marrickville that provide culturally diverse eating and shopping experiences, to retail centres such as Eastlakes. These centres are highly accessible and provide interchanges for bus and rail networks linking to strategic centres. Centres such as Rockdale also serve as community hubs.
Local centres are a focal point of neighbourhoods and where they include public transport and transport interchanges, they are an important part of a 30-minute city. While local centres are diverse and vary in size, they provide essential access to day-to-day goods and services close to where people live.
Future Transport 2056 identifies the importance of transport interchanges as places which will have a high level of accessibility which is enhanced as service frequencies and travel times are improved. There will be potential for interchanges to deliver mixed-use, walkable, cycle-friendly centres and neighbourhoods. As service frequencies and travel times are improved, there is a need for councils to consider local conditions through place-based planning that provides for centres around interchanges to grow and evolve over time.
Local centres also have an important role in providing local employment. Approximately 200 local centres include a supermarket with floor space greater than 1,000 square metres. These centres account for close to 18 per cent of all of Greater Sydney’s jobs (refer to Figure 13). The mapped local centres in Figure 13 are not exhaustive as there are many local centres without a supermarket that provide essential local functions, access to goods and services, social or community infrastructure or transport interchanges.
Principles for local centres
As part of the exhibition of the revised draft district plans, a number of councils recommended additions to the centres identified in Figure 13. As the management of local centres is predominantly led by councils, the resolution of which local centres are important to each council will need to be assessed as part of their preparation of local strategic planning statements and local environmental plans. Councils will need to consider which centres:
- will be appropriate to accommodate additional housing as part of their housing strategy
- will need to grow to provide for the required goods and services of the community
- may also need to grow to deliver other roles for the community, such as recreation, cultural, arts and community hubs.
This hierarchy of local, strategic and metropolitan centres (including transport interchanges) should be informed by an evidence-based assessment of local and district-wide housing, employment, retail, commercial services and infrastructure demand.
An understanding of the identity, character, size, land use mix, function, catchment and potential of each local centre and the local centres hierarchy will inform housing strategies. Additional residential development within a five-minute walk of a centre focused on local transport, or within a 10-minute walk of a centre with city-shaping or city-serving public transport, will help to create walkable local centres. However, housing should not compromise a centre’s primary role to provide goods and services, and the opportunity for the centre’s employment function to grow and change over time.
Place-based planning for centres should address the following principles:
- provide public realm and open space focus
- deliver transit-oriented development and co-locate facilities and social infrastructure
- provide, increase or improve local infrastructure and open space
- improve walking, cycling and public transport connections, including through the Greater Sydney Green Grid
- protect or expand retail and/or commercial floor space
- protect or expand employment opportunities
- integrate and support arts and creative enterprise and expression
- support the night-time economy
- augment arts provide community facilities and services, arts and cultural facilities
- conserve and interpret heritage values
- accommodate local festivals, celebrations, temporary and interim uses
- increase residential development in, or within walkable distance of, the centre
- provide parking that is adaptable to future uses and takes account of access to public transport, walking and cycling connections.
A vibrant and safe night-time economy will enhance the social and recreational needs of communities across Greater Sydney. Planning for a night-time economy in centres includes supporting a range of small businesses such as retail, arts and cultural enterprises and events.