Greater Sydney's cities, centres and neighbourhoods each have a unique combination of people, potential, history, culture, arts, climate, built form and natural features creating places with distinctive identities and functions. Great places build on these characteristics to create a sense of place that reflects shared community values and culture. Great places focus on the public realm and open spaces that attract residents, workers, visitors, enterprise and investment. They recognise and celebrate the local character of the place and its people, and include the green infrastructure that supports the sustainability of the region and people's wellbeing.
Through place-based planning the mechanisms for delivering public benefits can be agreed early in the planning process, so that places provide a combination of the following elements, as illustrated in Figure 21 and Figure 22.
- Well-designed built environment: great places are enjoyable and attractive, they are safe, clean and flexible with a mix of sizes and functions.
- Social infrastructure and opportunity: great places are inclusive of people of all ages and abilities, with a range of authentic local experiences and opportunities for social interaction and connections.
- Fine grain urban form: great places are walkable of human scale, with a mix of land uses including social infrastructure and local services at the heart of communities.
Walkable places are designed, built and managed to encourage people of all ages and abilities to walk or cycle for leisure, transport or exercise. Walkable neighbourhoods support centres and active street life, which enhances community connections, safety and the success of local businesses, and improves social and economic participation. Locations for new jobs and housing, and the prioritisation of transport, health, schools and social infrastructure investment should consider walkability.
Streets are the most common places in any city. They connect and unite communities. The way streets meet people's different needs is fundamental to the way the city is experienced. Streets have transport functions, including cycling, but are also places for pedestrians and social interaction. A Metropolis of Three Cities and Future Transport 2056 adopt a common approach to balancing the dual functions of streets (refer to Figure 11).
Recognition of the dual function of streets as places for people and movement is paramount as transport technologies transform the way streets are used. Balancing transport needs including walking and cycling with social opportunities can make streets lively, safe places.
This occurs through the 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 for shopping, dining, meeting friends, accessing transport or working their design affects their attractiveness, vitality and viability as a place.
Figure 21: Fine grain walkable places
Great places are characterised by a mix of land uses and activities that provide opportunities for social connection in walkable, human scale, fine grain neighbourhoods.
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 pathways17. This requires improvements in:
- Accessibility: pathways 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. 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 pathways for all people. Suitable pathways, pedestrian crossings of universal design, with appropriate lighting, shading, way finding, kerb ramps, rest points and natural surveillance provide comfortable and safe conditions for pedestrians with mobility constraints. The elderly, people with disabilities and therefore the whole community benefits.
In addition, fine grain urban form and land use mix through the co-location of schools, retail services and transport infrastructure in local centres 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.
Improving liveability in urban environments necessitates place-based planning for a mix of high quality places that engage, activate and connect people and communities.
The Government Architect NSW has prepared guidelines in Better Placed: An integrated design policy for the built environment of New South Wales, which support the creation and renewal of great places, for use by all practitioners including State and local governments, businesses and the community.
Figure 22: Elements of great places
Great places comprise a unique combination of locally distinctive elements. They build on local strengths and shared community values to create local identity that fosters enterprise, investment and innovation.
Great places are delivered through place-based planning, design and development responses to local conditions and meaningful community engagement.
Place-based planning is a design-led and collaborative way of examining the complexity of the city by viewing it as a mosaic of different places, each with unique potential and characteristics. It is a means of better understanding a place, and building relationships and collaboration to deliver a vision and solutions that respond to a place's potential.
Focusing on how specific places work and collaborative processes that recognise the value and need for local expertise, knowledge, responsibility and investment allows development of a shared vision and values.
People involved in the process vary depending on the circumstances, nature and scale of the task and may include the community, local businesses, residents, State and local governments and other stakeholders. A shared vision for a place that resolves different perspectives and interests can then be created.
The shared vision and a spatial framework for a place provide the basis for future development, governance and allocation of responsibilities. The outputs of place-based planning detail how the vision will be implemented and the place activated, monitored and managed. Place-based planning is also a way of managing change over time through staging, sequencing and re-visioning that allows for continual adjustments and improvements.
A placed-based planning approach can be applied to streets, neighbourhoods, local centres and larger scale urban renewal. This approach also underpins the development of strategies in Collaboration Areas.
Using a place-based and collaborative approach throughout planning, design, development and management, deliver great places by:
- prioritising a people-friendly public realm and open spaces as a central organising design principle
- recognising and balancing the dual function of streets as places for people and movement
- providing fine grain urban form, diverse land use mix, high amenity and walkability in and within a 10-minute walk of centres
- integrating social infrastructure to support social connections and provide a community hub
- recognising and celebrating the character of a place and its people.
In Collaboration Areas, Planned Precincts and planning for centres:
- investigate opportunities for precinct-based provision of adaptable car parking and infrastructure in lieu of private provision of car parking
- ensure parking availability takes into account the level of access by public transport
- consider the capacity for places to change and evolve, and accommodate diverse activities over time
- incorporate facilities to encourage the use of car sharing, electric and hybrid vehicles including charging stations.