UrbanGrowth NSW describes itself as the government’s lead body for urban transformation. What is urban transformation?
Urban transformation is about utilising city areas as effectively as possible, and comes from the government’s Metro Strategy. It refers to strategic areas characterised by their size and the opportunity they present for change and investment in Sydney. These transformation areas will shape Sydney’s function and amenity, and are critical to its growth. For us this also means areas close to major transport hubs, containing government land, and which require our intervention to maximise their value for the public. Our Major Urban Transformation Portfolio comprises such sites, and they represent a great opportunity to support the needs of growing communities across Sydney.
Why is UrbanGrowth NSW’s transformation work so focused on city living and why is it important for Sydney?
Urban living is really important for Sydney, and indeed all cities, as there is growing evidence to demonstrate it’s better for us as individuals, better for the economy and better for the future. It means living closer to where you work, and it means cheaper and faster transport through quality public infrastructure. It also means more time with your family, more vibrant local communities and a better quality of life.
Think of sprawling cities like Los Angeles, where urban planning has been an afterthought and people spend hours of each day on clogged highways with smog and pollution. In Sydney, the average commute time is already 71 minutes!
This is what we want to save Sydney from becoming, and a huge part of avoiding this is making the most of our opportunities to make the city better to live in. Importantly, this includes providing more housing choice and facilitating the efficient use of under-utilised government-owned land.
What are the challenges that Sydney faces in the next 20-30 years?
Well, the biggest is of course the booming population. How do we maintain and improve on all the aspects that we admire most about our city – its natural beauty, its vibrant communities, access to recreational and cultural facilities, green space and housing diversity—while accommodating all these extra people? In an increasingly sprawling set of suburbs and highways? Or do we leverage our opportunities in existing metropolitan areas to transform Sydney into a thriving, more efficient city that sets a new benchmark for global cities?
However, city living doesn’t mean no backyard and no space. The idea of a transformed and modern city is one where the city is everyone’s backyard. Infrastructure solutions like quality green public space and mixed-use precincts that are within walking distance from your home – where there is entertainment, dining, and even your job. This is the future of city living.
And with this new proximity and integration, neighbourhoods will flourish, families will be closer together, and we can help ease our reliance on cars. We also need to act now. The city is ageing and so is its population. We need to remain relevant and attract world-class talent, business and tourism.
So how will UrbanGrowth NSW deliver these urban transformation programs?
Our approach to delivering our porfolio of transformation programs is holistic and long term. We believe that there is a lifecycle to creating sustainable cities and the communities within them. This involves thinking about how to improve cities through far reaching collaboration with communities, government and industry, then working out how to fund the ideas generated. Then we need to facilitate the delivery of the vision and ideas, and then live sustainably in these transformed areas—which we then begin thinking about again.