Re-balancing the city: town centre renewal for Sydney

Cities and towns Urban planning Sydney
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For many residents of Sydney, the 30-minute city where jobs and services are a short step from home is already a reality. If you live within 10 km of the CBD, you likely already live within a 30-minute city. However, by 2056 almost half of Sydney’s eight million citizens will reside west of Parramatta. To prevent disconnected development and worsening transport congestion, we need to ensure that the numerous and vital town centres across Sydney are developed into amenable employment and services hubs where residents want to live and businesses want to locate. A trip to the shops, a restaurant or to see a friend, should not be a time-consuming and arduous endeavour.

This paper argues that revitalising and improving our suburban town centres can help to heighten the quality of life of many people living in Sydney. The paper builds on the Committee’s earlier paper, Density Done Well, and seeks to better define what we should expect from our town centres.

The paper provides clear recommendations for a Town Centre Challenge Fund to support Town Centre Renewal Deals (modelled on the emerging City Deals framework), as well as funding and Town Centre Renewal Delivery Vehicles that local and state policy makers can use to renew their centres. It also articulates the key challenges we face in renewing Sydney’s town centres — and what characteristics make up a great town centre.

Of course, while there are similarities in the experience of town centres in the Sydney region, the needs of Randwick are different from Liverpool, which are different again from Chatswood or Hurstville. Policymakers will need to tailor their solutions to the characteristics of each region and will likely need to adopt a suite of interventions given that individual policy measures rarely achieve the holistic integration necessary to deliver centre-wide revitalisation.

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