To foster healthy, creative, culturally rich and socially connected communities this District Plan recognises cultural richness and diversity as one of Greater Sydney’s key strengths. Strong social connections are key to these strengths and a foundation of resilience and healthy lifestyles among the District’s residents. To support and deliver these outcomes a multi-faceted and place-based approach is required to focus on the local inter-relationships between healthy, creative, culturally rich and socially connected communities.
Healthy and active lifestyles
Research identifies three key aspects of the built environment that support healthy lifestyles and improved health outcomes: strong social connections, physical activity and access to fresh food3. Consequently, the design and management of streets, places and neighbourhoods are essential to improve mental and physical health outcomes.
These aspects of a healthy built environment are important preventative responses to the incidence of chronic lifestyle diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is important as around 36 per cent of the adult population in Eastern City District is overweight or obese4 .
Walkable streets that provide direct accessible and safe pedestrian and cycling connections from homes to schools, daily needs and recreation facilities can encourage greater physical activity and social connection. Delivering fine grain urban form and local mixed-use places can provide better access to local retailers of fresh food, together with opportunities for people to participate in arts, recreation and cultural activities.
Connectivity of, and access to, diverse open spaces and opportunities for recreational physical activity are also essential. Sport and active lifestyles provide many social, cultural and health benefits. The Office of Sport is working in collaboration with key partners, including councils, to develop a Sport and Recreation Participation Strategy and a Sport and Recreation Facility Plan for each district during 2018 and 2019. The plans will include local and regional sport facilities that provide a strong foundation for participation in sport and active recreation.
Greater Sydney, like many global cities, has a diversity of people from differing socio-economic circumstances and a range of social, cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. This cultural richness brings to the region a wide array of skills, languages, cultures and experiences. It gives identity and distinctive character to Greater Sydney’s neighbourhoods and centres. In the District this diversity and richness is reflected in places such as Redfern, Leichhardt and Burwood, which are associated with unique historic and cultural identities.
As the District grows and changes, supporting social connections, and cultural and creative expression will build resilience through understanding, trust and neighbourliness.
The District includes social housing in places such as Waterloo. Targeted local responses to address spatial variations in socioeconomic disadvantage across the Eastern City District are required, particularly in neighbourhoods that experience greater disadvantage. This includes creating communities where social housing is part of the same urban fabric as private and affordable housing; where people have good access to transport and employment, community facilities and open spaces which can therefore provide a better social housing experience.
The Eastern City District is home to people from many cultural and social backgrounds. Fortyseven per cent of residents in the District are from 206 countries including China, England, New Zealand, India and Italy. As a result, 41 per cent of the District’s population speak 208 non-English languages in their homes5 . The top four languages other than English are Mandarin (19 per cent), Cantonese (eight per cent), Greek (eight per cent) and Italian (six per cent).
The Strathfield and Burwood local government areas demonstrate the strongest linguistic diversity with more than 65 per cent of residents speaking a language other than English at home.
The Eastern City District is home to refugees from many parts of the world. Burwood, City of Sydney, Inner West, Waverley and Randwick City councils have declared their areas Refugee Welcome Zones and have made a commitment in spirit to welcoming refugees into communities and celebrating their diversity of cultures.
A diversity of housing types provided through urban renewal and local infill (such as missing middle) supports the many household types and different community needs (refer to Planning Priority E5).
Place-based planning in the District’s culturally diverse neighbourhoods will enhance the use of engagement that recognises the different ways people participate (refer to Planning Priority E6).
Many councils have targeted approaches that consider specific linguistic or other needs to support greater participation. A better understanding of people’s social and economic aspirations and specific needs will enhance inclusion and identify culturally appropriate responses to local needs, to deliver improved health and wellbeing outcomes.
The District’s Aboriginal people, their histories and connections to Country and community make a valuable and continuing contribution to the District’s heritage, culture and identity.
Supporting Aboriginal self-determination, economic participation and contemporary cultural expression through initiatives such as the development of culturally-appropriate social infrastructure, will strengthen the District’s identity and cultural richness.
The District contains landholdings acquired under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 where Local Aboriginal Land Councils can work towards planning outcomes that will help support self-determination and economic participation.
As this District Plan is implemented, engagement with Aboriginal communities will be founded on self-determination and mutual respect, and to foster opportunities for economic participation, culturally appropriate social infrastructure and contemporary cultural expression. Exemplar programs include the Redfern community’s Clean Slate Without Prejudice program that supports children and young people’s development.
Supporting creative enterprise and cultural expression
Cultural expression and creative expression promote understanding of people’s experiences. Place-based planning will build on the District’s artistic, heritage, cultural, volunteering and creative strengths.
Co-locating artistic and creative organisations will support creative enterprises and precincts. This requires planning for multi-functional and shared spaces with opportunities for artists and makers to live, work, exhibit, sell and learn locally.
Cultural diversity is celebrated by the communities of the Eastern City District and includes artistic and cultural experiences such as NAIDOC Week, National Reconciliation Week, Chinese New Year and Ferragosto festivals, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Vivid, and Sydney Festival. The District’s artistic and cultural experiences are supported by:
- arts and cultural facilities, including major attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Roslyn Packer Theatre, the Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art, Carriageworks and local attractions such as the White Rabbit Gallery, Monkey Baa Theatre for Young People, 107 Projects, Addison Road Community Centre and local public libraries
- open space and recreational facilities, such as Moore and Centennial parks; Elizabeth Park, Concord; Bressington Park, Homebush; Heffron Park, Maroubra; and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Creative expression and cultural expression are also a hallmark of innovation, and innovation underpins the productivity of a 21st century city. Creative industries – a core element of an innovative economy – have a growing role in the District’s productivity, with creativity, entrepreneurship, technical ability and collaboration being essential skills for the future workforce.
Support for a range of creative enterprises and opportunities for cultural expression will expand arts and cultural institutions, and encourage audience and artist participation. Locations to consider for creative industries and cultural enterprise include under-utilised mixed-use areas, ground level commercial or declining high streets, in particular providing better and more opportunities for creative industries to collaborate with health and education can also facilitate local innovation.
The Moore Park area, for example, brings together a diverse range of cultural, creative educational and recreational endeavours. There is potential to grow the opportunities of this precinct.
The NSW Cultural Infrastructure Program Management Office is working with Infrastructure NSW to develop a cultural infrastructure strategy, which will include strategies and actions for Greater Sydney. Continued investment in the arts, screen and culture sector attracts a skilled workforce and encourages innovation in other sectors.
In the Eastern City District it is important that the capacity for creative industries, arts and cultural uses to locate near to major cultural institutions be protected, for example in the areas of the Inner West, Ultimo-Pyrmont and Sydenham to Bankstown.
The District’s cultural vibrancy is reinforced by night-time activities from popular eat streets, clubs and small bars to cinemas, arts and cultural activities. Stimulating and diversifying the nighttime economy in appropriate locations across the District can support local economies and culture. This can generally occur in mixed-use centres with adequate noise control, locally appropriate operating hours and safe late-night travel options.
Greater use of the public realm for temporary uses, and vacant or under-utilised commercial spaces for arts, events, and creative uses can support activation of places and encourage participation. Investigation of options to reduce the regulatory burden for arts, creative and temporary uses as well as the night-time economy is essential. This may require measures such as simplifying development approval processes or increasing the application of exempt and complying development provisions to these uses.
The provision of arts and creative spaces in areas experiencing significant urban renewal will further support local identity and innovation.
Supporting social connections
Many educational and community facilities, social enterprises, community initiatives, clubs and sporting organisations and facilities connect people with one another. These social connectors help foster healthy, culturally rich and networked communities that share values and trust and can develop resilience to shocks and stress.
The multi-faceted nature of social networks and connections are illustrated in Figures 5 to 8. These maps illustrate concentrations of some key social connectors in and around some local centres, which provide opportunities for people to connect with one another. They include:
- social infrastructure such as community and neighbourhood hubs, sports fields, clubs and courts, men’s sheds, pools and leisure centres
- education facilities like child care, schools, TAFEs and universities as well as libraries
- sharing spaces like community gardens, co-working spaces and car sharing
- street life and meeting places including live music venues, farmers’ markets, high streets and eat streets.
Stronger concentrations of social connectors are indicated by larger dots. The maps illustrate examples of centres where place-based planning can enhance existing community connections and strengthen or add new social connectors. Focusing on building social connectors in tandem with universal design will help to improve individual and community health, inclusion and participation outcomes.
Lifelong learning facilities and libraries continue to provide valuable opportunities to continue education and connect with others in the community. Digital connectivity builds broad and diverse communities of interest that cross traditional spatial boundaries.
Social connectors are a major element of the characteristics on which the local identity, specialties and distinctive functions of centres are built. For example, street life is particularly evident in places like Surry Hills, Marrickville and Pitt Street Mall, Sydney.
In the Eastern City District, places with high concentrations of social connectors are characterised by:
- access to trains or high frequency bus routes
- cultural and economic diversity
- high levels of volunteering
- high provision of social infrastructure
- access to education and learning
- walkable town centres or eat streets
- diverse housing mix (density, tenure and affordability).
Place-based planning to enhance social connections should focus these activities at the heart of neighbourhoods and in local centres. This co-location of social infrastructure with daily needs and other services helps build connections – as is evidenced at multipurpose intergenerational facilities such as The Connection, Community Centre, Rhodes, and Surry Hills Library.