As the District’s population grows, major demographic changes are also occurring. Planning must recognise the changing composition of population groups in local places and provide services and social infrastructure that meet the changes in people’s needs through different stages of life. This requires integrated planning and collaboration, including consideration of the provision of services, and the overall health and wellbeing outcomes for the community and intergenerational equity.
Population projections show distinct differences in projected growth in some age groups in the District’s local government areas (refer to figures 3 and 4). The greatest increase in population is expected in Camden Local Government Area (a 178 per cent increase by 2036), mostly in the South West Growth Area and strong growth across all age groups. The Blue Mountains Local Government Area will experience a 10 per cent increase by 2036 but will see a decline in the age groups 0–4 years of two per cent and 20–64 years of three per cent.
Growth increases demand on existing services and infrastructure, including sport and recreation facilities that are, in some cases, at or nearing capacity. Integrated and targeted delivery of services and infrastructure is needed to support growth and take account of existing levels of provision and use, while also responding to changing demands over time and in different places. Residents need the right local mix of services, programs and infrastructure to meet their needs.
Facilities can be the focus of neighbourhoods with the co-location of schools, youth and health services, aged care, libraries, community and cultural facilities, parks and recreation. These facilities need to be accessible with direct and safe walking and cycling connections that can be used by people of all ages and abilities. This encourages people to be more physically and socially active, improves health outcomes and enhances the overall liveability of a neighbourhood or centre.
Improving safety, accessibility and inclusion by co-locating activities benefits all residents and visitors. When supported by a fine grain urban form and land use mix which provides a greater diversity of uses and users, liveability can be improved.
Creating opportunities for increased shared use and more flexible use of under-utilised facilities such as schools, sports facilities, halls and creative spaces can support growth and respond to the different needs of local demographic groups. Multipurpose and intergenerational facilities are the key to better use of, and access to, infrastructure and services in urban renewal and land release areas.
Publicly owned land, including social housing in renewal precincts, may provide opportunities to optimise the co-location of social infrastructure and mixed uses at the heart of neighbourhoods.
Integrated and targeted delivery of services and infrastructure is needed to support growth and respond to the different needs of population groups. Accessible local health services and regional health infrastructure such as hospitals are important for all people across the District. South Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains local health districts focus on healthy communities through community health services, obesity prevention and promotion of a healthy built environment (refer to Planning Priority W4).
Cemeteries and crematoria are key social infrastructure that also need to be accessible geographically and economically, and reflective of a diversity of cultures and backgrounds. A growing Greater Sydney requires additional land for burials and cremations with associated facilities such as reception space and car parking.
Children and young people
Over the 20 years to 2036, projections show an expected increase of 24,950 children aged four years and younger, with 41 per cent of this growth in Camden local government area.
Planning for early education and child care facilities requires innovative approaches to the use of land and floor space, including co-location with compatible uses such as primary schools and office buildings, close to transport facilities.
The NSW Department of Education estimates that an extra 77,978 students will need to be accommodated in both government and non-government schools in the District by 2036. Growth in students is projected to be greatest in Camden (26,403), Liverpool (21,072), Campbelltown (13,541) and Penrith (11,008) local government areas.
The NSW Department of Education’s high-level School Assets Strategic Plan Summary 2017 coordinates planning for, and delivery of, both new and expanded schools. It encourages the joint and shared use of school facilities with local government and the private sector to develop innovative ways to provide school infrastructure. School Infrastructure NSW, a new specialist unit within the Department, will undertake school community planning and deliver the education infrastructure program, working with other State agencies and community groups to develop schools as community hubs.
Schools help to create and support inclusive and vibrant neighbourhoods. Planning for new schools, and the use of existing schools, must respond to growth and changing demand in innovative ways such as more efficient use of land, contemporary design, greater sharing of spaces and facilities, and flexible learning spaces. Safe walking and cycling links to schools encourage young people to be more active and better connect schools with local communities. They can reduce local congestion around schools, improving safety for children and families.
The design and management of open space, cultural spaces and the public realm need to consider the needs of children and young people (refer to Planning Priority W6).
The Office of the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People’s NSW Strategic Plan for Children and Young People is the first legislated three-year whole-of-government plan focused on all children and young people aged 0–24 years. It aims to give children and young people opportunities to thrive, get the services they need and have their voice heard.