The City of Sydney has released its long-term strategic plan to help the city thrive and fully recover from the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

The plan, Sustainable Sydney 2030-2050: Continuing the Vision, will guide the City’s pathway beyond the pandemic, helping the city recover and thrive anew with more space for people, improved transport, better access to the harbour and cultural identity, increased greenery and climate action.

City of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said the vision builds on Sustainable Sydney 2030, which has underpinned the City’s work to create a greener, more connected, affordable and equitable city for over a decade.

“All successful cities have long-term plans to ensure their economies and communities prosper, business invests with confidence and all governments work together providing essential infrastructure and services,” Mayor Moore said.

“Sustainable Sydney 2030, developed after extensive consultation and research, and working with many of the world’s best urban thinkers and strategists, has guided our work to create a green, global and connected city for over a decade.

“In building on the plan and extending our vision to 2050, we are reinforcing the community’s priorities, extending targets and pushing ourselves harder to ensure Sydney’s liveability, sustainability and diversity now and into the future.

“Underpinned by sound data and analysis and the most up-to-date science, Sustainable Sydney 2030–2050 Continuing the Vision outlines our ambitious environmental, economic, social and cultural aspirations.”

The City began the process to extend its long-term strategic plan in 2019, with a comprehensive program of engagement with residents, businesses, workers and visitors to our area – including people from across broader metropolitan Sydney – a First Nations dialogue forum and a stakeholder summit.

The innovative approach culminated in a citizens’ jury where 43 randomly selected people from across Sydney considered all the ideas and recommended eight transformative concepts by 2050.

City staff have spent the past two years re-engaging the community and incorporating COVID-19-relevant research to ensure the document reflects the needs of the community post-pandemic.

“The cities that will recover and thrive most effectively are the ones that provide affordable housing, working and cultural space, a myriad of cultural offerings, walking, cycling and excellent late-night public transport, green, cool calm streets, laneways, small bars and late-night activity,” Mayor Moore said.

“The City of Sydney has, for over a decade, understood these to be the attributes of great and competitive cities and has made them a priority. What we are hearing from the community is that the reform appetite for this agenda has only accelerated post-COVID and we need to match that with accelerating our pace of reform.

“The pandemic brought into even sharper focus the importance of access to parks and open space, support for our most vulnerable communities and creative industries, and the need to foster social cohesion. It reinforced the need for the city centre to operate as a place of entertainment, culture and innovation. And it showed us economic success and liveability have never been more intertwined.

“The vision we outlined for 2030 and are now extending to 2050 capitalises on this, and aims for a sustainable future where our city is a leader in sustainable growth, creativity and innovation, with a 24-hour economy and opportunities for all.”

Supporting the key strategic and operational direction of the plan are ten transformative project ideas, which aim to reflect the community’s values and aspirations and bring the strategy’s directions to life.

The project ideas have been developed in collaboration with Sydney architects, landscape architects and urban designers.

Project ideas, as explained by the City, are as below: 

Yananurala – acknowledging Country on Sydney harbour’s foreshore walk

Yananurala is a 9km walk that highlights Aboriginal history and culture at places along the Sydney harbour foreshore. It is part of the broader Eora Journey Recognition in the public domain program. 

Yananurala translates to ‘walking on country’ and will share Aboriginal perspectives and stories through a series of artworks and installations from Pirrama (Pyrmont) to Woolloomooloo, including Barangaroo, Ta-ra (Dawes Point) and Warrane (Circular Quay). 

Interpretative signs will be installed in the coming months, with artists invited to create the first series of audio and text-based installations later in 2022.

Making space for culture

Council believes it is essential to take a proactive and innovative approach to making space for culture and creativity to retain the long-term future of creative workers and the cultural vibrancy of Sydney. 

Making space for culture is a two-part strategy for creating and preserving cultural and creative space in Sydney – precinct revitalisation around existing cultural assets, and the establishment of a creative land trust to create more cultural production space.

City space improvement program

As growing numbers of people come into the city by 2050, space to move, gather together and recreate will become more important

Temporary and permanent initiatives are proposed by the City to transform road space into public space in the city centre. 

This could include timed road closures and temporary use of parking for lunchtime activation, leading to more permanent transformations that benefit public life in the city centre and enable a greener city. 

The program is also an opportunity to capitalise on significant public transport investment by the State Government to transform roads to public space.

Three linked squares

The creation of three squares at Circular Quay (the water square), Town Hall Square (Sydney’s civic heart) and Central (Sydney’s arrival square) all linked by the transformed George Street aim to  provide more space for public life in the heart of the city. 

The proposal builds on George Street improvements to date and the redevelopment of Central, both of which fulfil Jan Gehl’s 2030 vision for a pedestrian spine linked by three squares.

The green city

Three ideas for a green city – green avenues, the laneway commons and expanding Sydney’s lungs at Moore Park. They illustrate what the city streets and open spaces could be in the future, providing more space for people, walking, cycling and greening, and ensuring the future wellbeing and health of our communities. 

Council aims to boost green cover across the city to 40 per cent by 2050, and canopy cover to 27 per cent. Plans for a greener city range from the obvious solutions like planting more trees, shrubs and plants, to amending planning controls to make it easier for new developments to include elements like a green roof, as well as requiring developers to include a minimum amount of greenery in order for their plans to be approved.

The water city

This project seeks to capitalise on the incredible asset that is Sydney Harbour and realise its potential for community recreation. 

Swimming in the harbour becomes a symbol of a healthy water ecosystem and also acknowledges that the community can learn more and respect First Nations people’s relationship with the harbour. 

Rehabilitation, protection and good management of Sydney Harbour in the future could create more opportunities for recreation on the foreshore, support the environment and wellbeing of our communities and economy, and avoid building more infrastructure for public swimming.

Connecting Green Square

An eastern transit corridor links the Green Square town centre and rail station to a future metro station in Zetland. This corridor could support light rail, emerging trackless tram technologies or zero emission bus services, connecting  southern communities to the city centre and neighbourhoods in between.

Metro as catalyst

Metro is the best way to connect current and future innovation, knowledge and employment centres, the city centre and other hubs across metropolitan Sydney. Well-located metro stations integrated with existing public transport networks help people get around, supporting communities, businesses and the economy.

Housing for all

Additional models to increase the supply of affordable housing are needed because, like other global cities, the City is concerned that Sydney is becoming increasingly divided between those who can afford housing and those who cannot.

“These project ideas propose both immediate creative opportunities and long-term solutions to the challenges facing our city,” Mayor Moore said.

“Long-term infrastructure and development to shape a sustainable city requires commitment from all levels of government, businesses and our wider communities.”

Among those who collaborated with the City of Sydney in response to the community’s aspirations and developed the project ideas for Sydney’s future domain was CEO of the Committee for Sydney, Gabriel Metcalf.

“I think people are going to be inspired when they see this plan. As good as Sydney is today, it’s actually going to get better,” Mr Metcalf said.

“The key to a long plan like this is to set the right ambitions, so that all of us can pull together to make them happen. The 2050 plan is visionary and ambitious in just the right way.”

In preparing its vision for 2050, the City also took stock of its progress over the last decade and looked to the challenges and opportunities that Sydney and its communities may face in  coming decades.

As part of its Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy, the City of Sydney has:

  • Completed more than 250 major projects in the last ten years including the creation of many new parks and playgrounds
  • Opened new libraries, childcare centres, theatres and cultural spaces
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent across the local area based on 2006 levels
  • Planted more than 15,000 street trees in the past 15 years
  • Built a 20km network of separated cycleways
  • Welcomed more than 64,000 new residents and 115,000 more jobs
  • Led the development and delivery of a transformed George Street, including the extension under construction to Central
  • Injected millions of dollars every year into some of Sydney’s most beloved events
  • Invested in hundreds of artists to deliver both permanent and temporary public artworks
  • Subsidised more than 10,000m2 of cultural floor space

“When we released Sustainable Sydney 2030, some thought the task of meeting our ambitious goals would be impossible,” Mayor Moore said.

“We now have a light rail running down George Street creating a wonderful pedestrian spine, the City is powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity, and we are the only capital city to have increased our green canopy cover. 

“We set the goals, then we do the planning, do the work and meet them – and we will again with Sustainable Sydney 2030-2050 Continuing the Vision.”

Mr Metcalf said, “These achievements are testament to the City of Sydney’s ability to develop a strategic vision that lasts.”

Sustainable Sydney 2030-2050 Continuing the Vision will be presented to Council on 11 April 2022.

These documents will set out the priorities and resources for Sustainable Sydney 2030-2050 Continuing the Vision over the short, medium, and longer term. 

The plans will be exhibited for community feedback before being presented to Council for adoption in June 2022.  

Public talk to discuss Sydney’s future plans  

Government and international industry leaders have come together in a public talk with Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, to discuss plans for Sydney’s future, as outlined in the City’s long-term plan.

City of Sydney held the talk on 5 April 2022 at Centennial Hall, Sydney Town Hall.

The talk was centred around Sustainable Sydney 2030-2050 Continuing the Vision.

The keynote speaker was London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who spoke live from the United Kingdom.

Also on the panel was:

  • New South Wales Treasurer and Minister for Energy, Matt Kean
  • Councillor, Climate Council, and economic consultant, Social Outcomes, Nicki Hutley
  • Founder and Co-CEO, OzHarvest, Ronni Kahn AO
  • CEO of Committee for Sydney, Gabriel Metcalf 
  • HASSELL fellow and president Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, Ken Maher AO
  • Director First Nations, Powerhouse Museum and Curator, City of Sydney’s Eora Journey and Yananurala Harbour Walk, Emily McDaniel

View the full Sustainable Sydney 2030-2050 Continuing the Vision here.


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