Improving sustainability will involve incorporating natural landscape features into the urban environment; protecting and managing natural systems; cooling the urban environment; innovative and efficient use and re-use of energy, water and waste resources; and building the resilience of communities to natural and urban hazards, shocks and stresses.
All aspects of sustainability rely on maintaining and managing green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is the network of green spaces, natural systems and semi-natural systems that support sustainable communities. Its connected elements are waterways; urban bushland; urban tree canopy and green ground cover; parks and open spaces.
Parks and gardens, remnant bushland and tree-lined streets also attract and sustain talent required for Greater Sydney to thrive as a global city. Optimising and protecting existing assets will be essential in ensuring the on going health and sustainability of the District.
The North District’s natural environment is defined by extensive native bushland, beaches and lagoons, the foreshore of Sydney Harbour and major waterways. The District’s coasts and waterways – including the iconic Sydney Harbour – frame the District on three sides and help define its identity.
Maintaining and improving the health of Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta, Pittwater and Hawkesbury rivers as natural, cultural and recreational assets also contributes to cooling the environment and provide habitat for aquatic ecosystems.
The Greater Sydney Green Grid – the regional network of high quality green spaces and tree- lined streets that support walking, cycling and community access to open spaces – will provide cool green links throughout the District.
The District’s extensive rural areas include farmland which supplies fresh local produce and mineral resources providing construction materials. Its bushland provides habitat for wildlife and offset sites for biodiversity.
As the North District grows, improvements in the way buildings and precincts are planned and designed, and the way water and energy infrastructure is delivered, can support the more efficient use of resources and lower carbon emissions. The management of waste will present both an environmental challenge and an economic opportunity. New approaches to how waste materials and resources are re-used within a circular economy will help reduce impacts on the environment.
Its climate and natural landscape can create natural hazards such as bushfire, heatwaves, flooding, storms, coastal erosion and inundation. Natural and urban hazards will be exacerbated by climate change. Supporting actions that mitigate climate change, and actions that assist communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change, will be important.
For the North District an integrated approach to improving sustainability can be achieved by the following Planning Priorities:
N15. Protecting and improving the health and enjoyment of Sydney Harbour and the District’s waterways
N16. Protecting and enhancing bushland and biodiversity
N17. Protecting and enhancing scenic and cultural landscapes
N18. Better managing rural areas
N19. Increasing urban tree canopy cover and delivering Green Grid connections
N20. Delivering high quality open space
N21. Reducing carbon emissions and managing energy, water and waste efficiently
N22. Adapting to the impacts of urban and natural hazards and climate change.
Green infrastructure and greener places
Green infrastructure is fundamental to creating a high quality of life and is important in creating a region that is climate-resilient and adaptable to future needs. The NSW Government’s draft green infrastructure policy Greener Places: Establishing an urban green infrastructure policy for New South Wales was produced by the Government Architect NSW to guide the planning, design and delivery of green infrastructure. The draft policy also highlights the role of green roofs and walls, private and semi-private residential gardens and agricultural land that complement green infrastructure and help support more sustainable places.
The draft policy is based on a green infrastructure framework which has key components:
- Bushland and Waterways – delivering green infrastructure for habitat and ecological health
- The Urban Tree Canopy – delivering green infrastructure for climate change adaptation and resilience
- Parks and Open Space – delivering green infrastructure for people.