The City of Sydney has a new plan to ensure better public spaces in the northern part of the city, as major developments and new Metro stations rapidly transform the area.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the new plan, which was endorsed unanimously by Council, would help manage the influx of people in the precinct bound by Martin Place and George, Bridge and Macquarie streets, by delivering more space for pedestrians and more greenery.
“We are committed to transforming Sydney into a greener, safer, calmer city – where communities can come together and our streets are destinations, rather than simply a means of transiting from one place to another,” the Lord Mayor said.
“You only need look at the work we have done on George Street to see what’s possible. The conga-lines of buses on the clogged city street have been replaced by a beautiful tree-lined pedestrian boulevard through the heart of our city.
“The northern CBD is changing rapidly, with uptake of the Central Sydney Planning Strategy’s northern tower cluster, significant State Government infrastructure and transport projects including two new Metro Stations and several large planning proposals.
“These changes all significantly increase residential and employment floor space and pedestrian numbers, increasing demands on the public domain. As we accelerate our plans to create a more connected and walkable city, the importance of seizing every opportunity to create new public spaces is at the front of mind.”
Updates to the plan identify opportunities for more public space and greenery now and into the future, largely centred around the unique precinct of Hunter Street and its surrounds. The plan also commits to reflecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and connections to Country by rebalancing the representation of history and heritage in places of significance, as projects progress.
The proposed projects earmarked for investigation aim to make the area better for people on foot, provide more opportunities for gathering and enhance the precinct’s unique character, including corner squares and heritage landmarks.
Ideas for consideration include:
recognition of the historic Tank Stream watercourse under Hunter Street as part of a generous new public square
share ways and pedestrian spaces on parts of Hunter, Spring, Loftus and O’Connell streets
expanded public space from the southern edges of Chifley and Richard Johnson squares
more trees and wider footpaths on Hunter, Gresham, Bent, Bligh and O’Connell streets.
Ongoing priorities outlined in the broader plan include creating clutter-free walking routes, advocating for a public square at the water’s edge of Circular Quay, creating linked park and garden spaces from Circular Quay to the south, reinforcing Martin Place as the city’s premier public space and encouraging lively streetscapes with activities spilling out from buildings into public space.
About 16,000 more workers and 200 additional homes are expected in the city’s north by 2025. New Metro stations are due to be completed at Martin Place and Pitt Street next year. A new station is also planned for Hunter Street, set to be the busiest interchange in central Sydney when finished in 2030.
“The Covid-19 pandemic showed us just how important the public spaces at the heart of our city are to both provide space for the community to come together as well as allowing businesses to take part in the activation of these emerging cultural hubs,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Sydney is constantly evolving and big changes can’t be made in isolation. It’s vital we have plans like this to guide not just our planners but government and developers as we take the city into the future.
“This is particularly important in areas like Hunter Street, which will see a massive influx of people on foot when the Metro comes online. Thousands of commuters will come and go from the new Metro exits at George and O’Connell streets and we have to ensure the space is welcoming, walkable and safe.
“We also want to provide additional space for people and activation on Loftus Street, which provides an important connection between the northern central business district and Circular Quay. Loftus Street is no longer busy with through traffic, which affords us the ability to create more space for people to spill out for coffee, lunch or events. The proposed upgrade will provide a pedestrian priority, green canopy connection between Customs House Square, Jessie Street gardens, Macquarie Place Park and Farrer Place.”
The city north public domain plan was initially drafted in 2015. The updated plan was open for public feedback late last year.