Active open space is in high demand across the District, with limited opportunity to provide additional capacity alongside growth. Utilisation rates are high, with some sporting clubs unable to access fields as needed and providers such as local councils, finding it difficult to fund upkeep and maintenance. A trend towards greater participation in sport by women and people aged over 35 is beginning to appear, as well as a trend towards indoor sports, and sports requiring less space such as futsal, changing patterns of demand for sports fields and facilities.
Links to and between open space assets tend to favour major scenic areas. In the east, links along the coastline, and to a lesser extent along the Harbour, are well established. In the west, links east-west along the Parramatta River have progressively been improved, as have those along the Cooks River and Botany Bay foreshores. Connections from the residential areas to these and other major assets would boost access to valuable open space resources. Demand for nature-based recreation will need to be managed to minimise impacts on biodiversity.
The future of some larger spaces used for activities such as golf may be 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.
The District’s golf courses may offer an opportunity to contribute to additional open space. Consolidating existing courses to support international grade facilities, while delivering additional public open space for active sport and recreation, walking and cycling will require further investigation and effective collaboration. Protecting waterways and biodiversity on consolidated and repurposed golf courses is also important.
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 small/pocket parks.
The Government Architect NSW is developing an open space toolkit, a resource for councils to use for open space planning.