Penrith City Council has developed the Cooling the City issues paper, an advocacy tool calling for changes to the state planning system to ensure Western Sydney can adapt to rising urban heat.
Following on from the success of Penrith City Council’s Cooling the City Masterclass, the issues paper was developed to advocate for changes to be made to the state planning system to ensure that all new developments across Western Sydney are designed to be adaptive to urban heat in both the current and future climate.
Council began developing the issues paper after the success of the Cooling the City Masterclass in 2020. Attended by 350 professionals, the Masterclass provided a platform for development and planning professionals to learn about the impacts of urban heat from international and Sydney-based urban heat experts.
Penrith City Council’s General Manager, Warwick Winn, praised the issues paper as a useful resource and advocacy tool for all of Western Sydney.
“The paper provides the basis for strong advocacy by calling for proactive, adaptive and effective policy, provisions and standards for cooler cities and communities,” Mr Winn said.
“Extreme heat is one of the most critical risks facing communities within Western Sydney, making it more important than ever that we advocate for urban heat to be considered in the planning systems that are being used to plan, design and build our cities.
“In developing the issues paper, Council engaged with planners across Western Sydney councils and key industry stakeholders to identify issues, gaps, opportunities and priority areas within the state planning system where change is required to address the challenges and impacts of urban heat.
“The issues paper identifies key recommendations in advocating for changes to codes, legislation, policies and standards to assist Western Sydney councils in working with the NSW Government on creating practical and realistic actions that will prioritise community health and safety during extreme heat whilst reducing household costs through energy savings.
“Positive outcomes from these recommended actions include increasing tree canopy cover through larger verge widths, alternative street designs, and changes to minimum landscaped areas and lot sizes to accommodate an appropriate medium to large size canopy tree, as well as requirements for lighter coloured roofs and reflective materials to improve the thermal comfort of a home.
“We look forward to working alongside other Western Sydney councils, industry, research institutes, and the New South Wales Government to cool Western Sydney.”
Penrith Council has worked towards mitigating the impacts of urban heat and increasing the environmental performance of its building assets through the implementation of its Buildings Policy.
The Council Buildings Policy has been updated to align to leading industry practice in sustainable building design, establishing clear standards and criterion for new and existing buildings, including five star Green Star certification for new council buildings and substantial refurbishments of existing buildings over $10 million.
Council’s revised Buildings Policy is expected to deliver positive economic, social and environmental benefits, including maximising energy efficiency, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and provision of cooler buildings designed to better adapt to urban heat in Western Sydney.