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Fostering healthy, creative, culturally rich and socially connected communities

Explore the plans

  • Infrastructure
  • Liveability
  • Productivity
  • Sustainability
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A city supported by infrastructureInfrastructure
A collaborative cityCollaboration
A city for peoplePeople
Housing the cityHousing
A city of great placesPlaces
A well connected cityConnected
Jobs and skills for the cityJobs
A city in its landscapeLandscape
An efficient cityEfficiency
A resilient cityResilience
Planning Priority N4

To foster healthy, creative, culturally rich and socially connected communities, this District Plan recognises diversity as one of Greater Sydney's key strengths. Strong social connections are key to these strengths and a foundation of resilience and healthy lifestyles among the District's residents. To support and deliver these outcomes a multi faceted and place-based approach is required to focus on the local inter relationships between healthy, creative, culturally rich and socially connected communities.

Healthy and active lifestyles

Research identifies three key aspects of the built environment that support healthy lifestyles and improved health outcomes: strong social connections, physical activity and access to fresh food5. Consequently, the design and management of streets, places and neighbourhoods are essential to improved mental and physical health outcomes.

These aspects of a healthy built environment are important preventative responses to the incidence of chronic lifestyle diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is especially important as around 44 per cent of the adult population in the North District is overweight or obese6.

Walkable streets that provide direct, accessible and safe pedestrian and cycling connections from homes to schools, daily needs and recreation facilities can encourage greater physical activity and social connection. Delivering fine grain urban form and local mixed-use places can provide better access to local retailers of fresh food, together with opportunities for people to participate in arts, recreation and cultural activities.

Connectivity of, and access to, diverse open spaces and opportunities for recreational physical activity are also essential to improved mental and physical health outcomes. Sport and active lifestyles provide many social, cultural and health benefits. The Office of Sport is working in collaboration with key partners, including councils, to develop a Sport and Recreation Participation Strategy and a Sport and Recreation Facility Plan for each district during 2018 and 2019. The plans will include local and regional sport facilities, that provide a strong foundation for participation in sport and active recreation.

Diverse neighbourhoods

Greater Sydney, like many global cities, has a diversity of people from differing socioeconomic circumstances and a range of social, cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. This cultural richness brings to the region a wide array of skills, languages, cultures and experiences. It gives identity and distinctive character to Greater Sydney's neighbourhoods and centres. As the District grows and changes, supporting social connections, and cultural and creative expression will build resilience through understanding, trust and neighbourliness.

The District includes social housing in places such as Ivanhoe. Targeted local responses to address spatial variations in socioeconomic disadvantage across the District are required, particularly in neighbourhoods that experience greater disadvantage. This includes creating communities where social housing is part of the same urban fabric as private and affordable housing has good access to transport and employment, community facilities and open spaces which can therefore provide a better social housing experience.

The North District is home to people from many cultural and social backgrounds. Thirty-nine per cent of residents in the District are from 201 countries including China, England, India, New Zealand and South Korea. As a result, 29 per cent of the District's population speak 175 non-English languages in their homes7.

The North District is home to refugees from many parts of the world. The majority of councils within the District have declared their areas Refugee Welcome Zones and have made a commitment in spirit to welcoming refugees into communities and celebrating their diversity of cultures.

The top four languages spoken at home other than English are Mandarin (23 per cent), Cantonese (13 per cent), Korean (seven per cent) and Italian (four per cent).

Fifty per cent of City of Ryde residents speak over 120 languages other than English. It is home to the most Cantonese and Mandarin speakers in the District. In the Northern Beaches Local Government Area, residents speak 99 languages other than English with the most speakers of Spanish and Italian in the District.

A diversity of housing types provided through urban renewal, local infill (such as "missing middle") and new communities in land release areas supports many of the household types and different community needs (refer to Planning Priority N5).

Place-based planning in the District's culturally diverse neighbourhoods utilises engagement that recognises the different ways people participate. Many councils have targeted approaches that consider specific linguistic or other needs to support greater participation (refer to Planning Priority N6). A better understanding of people's social and economic aspirations and specific needs achieved through engagement and participation, enhances inclusion and identifies culturally appropriate responses to local needs, to deliver improved health and wellbeing outcomes.

Aboriginal people

The District's Aboriginal people, their histories and connections to Country and community make a valuable and continuing contribution to the District's heritage, culture and identity.

Supporting Aboriginal self-determination, economic participation and contemporary cultural expression through initiatives such as the development of culturally appropriate social infrastructure, will strengthen the District's identity and cultural richness.

The District contains landholdings acquired under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 where Local Aboriginal Land Councils can work towards planning outcomes that will help support self-determination and economic participation.

As this District Plan is implemented, engagement with Aboriginal communities will be founded on self-determination and mutual respect to foster opportunities for economic participation, culturally appropriate social infrastructure and contemporary cultural expression.

Supporting creative enterprise, cultural expression

Cultural expression and creative expression promotes understanding of people's experiences. Place-based planning will build on the District's artistic, heritage, cultural, volunteering and creative strengths.

Co-locating artistic and creative organisations will support creative enterprises and precincts. This requires planning for multi functional and shared spaces with opportunities for artists and makers to live, work, exhibit, sell and learn locally.

Cultural diversity is celebrated by the communities of the North District and includes cultural events and celebrations such as NAIDOC Week, National Reconciliation Week, Guringai Festival, Manly Jazz Festival, Northern Beaches Music Festival, Narrabeen Lakes Festival, Lane Cove Festival and Willoughby's Emerge Festival.

The District's artistic and cultural experiences are supported by:

  • entertainment facilities such as the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne and Roseville Cinema
  • arts and cultural facilities such as The Concourse Chatswood, Ensemble Theatre, Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Ku-ring-gai Art Centre, Glen Street Theatre, Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre, Mosman Art Gallery and Community Centre, Scotland Island Community Centre, Berowra Community Centre, Avalon Annex and Willandra Art Gallery in Ryde, as well as local libraries
  • open space and sports facilities, including Brookvale Oval and North Sydney Oval.

Creative and cultural expression is also a hallmark of innovation, and innovation underpins the productivity of the 21st century city.

Creative industries - a core element of an innovative economy - have a growing role in the District's productivity, with creativity, entrepreneurship, technical ability and collaboration being essential skills for the future workforce.

Support for a range of creative enterprises and opportunities for cultural expression will expand arts and cultural institutions, and encourage audience and artist participation. Locations to consider for creative industries and cultural enterprise include underutilised mixed-use areas and ground-level commercial or declining high streets. In particular providing better and more opportunities for creative industries to collaborate with health and education can also facilitate local innovation.

The NSW Cultural Infrastructure Program Management Office is working with Infrastructure NSW to develop a cultural infrastructure strategy, which will include strategies and actions for Greater Sydney. Continued investment in the arts, screen and cultural sector attracts a skilled workforce and encourages innovation in other sectors.

Local cultural and arts networks such as those that centre on arts facilities recognise that place-based approaches can develop local artistic and creative culture.

The District's cultural vibrancy is reinforced by night-time economies, from popular eat streets, clubs, pubs and small bars to cinemas, arts and cultural activities. Stimulating and diversifying the night-time economy in appropriate locations across the District can support local economies and culture.

This can generally occur in mixed-use centres with adequate noise control, locally appropriate operating hours and safe late-night travel options.

Greater use of the public realm for interim and temporary uses, and vacant or under-utilised commercial space for arts, events and creative uses, can support activation of places and encourage participation. Investigation of options to reduce the regulatory burden for arts, creative and temporary uses as well as the night-time economy is needed for regulations to be commensurate with the activity. This may require measures such as simplifying development approval processes or increasing the application of exempt and complying development provisions to these uses.

The provision of arts and creative spaces in areas experiencing significant urban renewal will further support local identity and innovation.

Supporting social connections

Many educational and community facilities, social enterprises, community initiatives, clubs and sporting organisations and facilities connect people with one another. These social connectors help foster healthy, culturally rich and networked communities that share values and trust, and can develop resilience to shocks and stress.

The multi-faceted nature of social networks and connections are illustrated in Figures 5-8. These maps illustrate concentrations of some key social connectors in and around local centres, which provide opportunities for people to connect with one another. They include:

  • social infrastructure including community and neighbourhood hubs, sports fields, clubs and courts, men's sheds, pools and leisure centres
  • education facilities like child care, schools, TAFEs and universities as well as libraries
  • sharing spaces like community gardens, co-working spaces and car sharing
  • street life and meeting places including live music venues, farmers' markets, and high streets and eat streets.

Stronger concentrations of social connectors are indicated by larger dots. The maps illustrate examples of centres where place-based planning can enhance existing community connections and strengthen 33 Greater Sydney Commission | North District Plan or add new social connectors. Focusing on building social connectors in tandem with universal design will help to improve individual and community health, inclusion and participation outcomes.

Lifelong learning facilities and libraries provide valuable opportunities to continue education and connect with others. Digital connectivity builds broad and diverse communities of interest that cross traditional spatial boundaries.

These social connectors are a major element of the characteristics on which the local identity and distinctive functions of centres are built. For example, street life is particularly evident in places like Manly, Chatswood and Crows Nest.

In the North District, places with high concentrations of social connectors are characterised by:

  • access to trains or high-frequency bus routes
  • cultural and economic diversity
  • high levels of volunteering
  • high provision of social infrastructure
  • access to education and learning
  • walkable town centres or eat streets
  • diverse housing mix (density, tenure and affordability).

Place-based planning to enhance social connections should focus these activities at the heart of neighbourhoods and in local centres to enhance social and economic participation. This co-location of social infrastructure with daily needs and other services helps build connections.

A photo showing young people at a skate ramp at Mona Vale.

Mona Vale


Deliver healthy, safe and inclusive places for people of all ages and abilities that support active, resilient and socially connected communities by:

a. providing walkable places at a human scale with active street life
b. prioritising opportunities for people to walk, cycle and use public transport
c. co-locating schools, health, aged care, sporting and cultural facilities
d. promoting local access to healthy fresh food and supporting local fresh food production

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations


Incorporate cultural and linguistic diversity in strategic planning and engagement.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations


Consider the local infrastructure implications of areas that accommodates large migrant and refugee populations.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations


Strengthen the economic self-determination of Aboriginal communities by engagement and consultation with Local Aboriginal Lands Councils to better understand and support their economic aspirations as they relate to land use planning.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations


Facilitate opportunities for creative and artistic expression and participation,wherever feasible, with a minimum regulatory burden, including:

a. arts enterprises and facilities, and creative industries
b. interim and temporary uses
c. appropriate development of the night-time economy.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations


Strengthen social connections within and between communities through bette understanding of the nature of social networks and supporting infrastructure in local places.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations