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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 S4

To foster healthy, creative, culturally rich and socially connected communities, this District Plan recognises cultural richness and 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. 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 food3. This means the design and management of streets, places and neighbourhoods are essential to improve 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, especially as around 52 per cent of the adult population in the South District is overweight or obese4.

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 connections. 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 better mental and physical health outcomes.

Sport and active lifestyles provide many social, cultural and health benefits. The Office of Sport is working with 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 socio-economic circumstances and a range of social, cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. This cultural richness brings a wide array of skills, languages, cultures and experiences. It gives identity and distinctive character to Greater Sydney's neighbourhoods and centres.

As the South District grows and changes, supporting social connections, and cultural and creative expression will build resilience through understanding, trust and neighbourliness.

Targeted local responses to address spatial variations in socio-economic 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. Social housing is located in Riverwood and Menai.

The South District is home to people from many cultural and social backgrounds. Thirty-five per cent of residents in the District are from 202 countries including China, Lebanon, Vietnam, England and Greece. As a result, 47 per cent of the District's population speak over 100 languages other than English in their homes5.

In Canterbury-Bankstown Local Government Area, 64 per cent of people speak 91 languages other than English. Arabic, Vietnamese and Greek are the most commonly spoken languages other than English in the local government area.

In the Georges River Local Government Area, 56 per cent of residents speak 76 languages other than English, with Cantonese and Mandarin being the most commonly spoken languages. In Sutherland Shire Local Government Area, 13 per cent of residents speak 71 languages other than English.

The South District is home to refugees from many parts of the world. Sutherland Shire, Georges River and Canterbury-Bankstown councils 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.

A diversity of housing types provided through urban renewal, (such as missing middle), and new communities in land release areas supports the many household types and community needs.

Place-based planning in the District's culturally diverse neighbourhoods will enhance the use of engagement that recognises the different ways people participate (refer to Planning Priority S6). Many councils have targeted approaches that consider specific linguistic or other needs to support greater participation. A better understanding of people's social and economic aspirations and specific needs enhances inclusion and identifies culturally appropriate responses to local needs, to deliver improved health and wellbeing outcomes.

A photograph of the Bankstown Bites festival.


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 selfdetermination 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 and cultural expression

Cultural expression and creative expression promote understanding of peoples experience. 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 South District and includes cultural events and celebrations such as NAIDOC Week, National Reconciliation Week, Haldon Street Festival, Lunar New Year Festival in the Hurstville and Kogarah, Campsie Festival and Bankstown Bites Festival.

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

  • arts and cultural facilities, including the Bankstown Arts Centre and Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery and workshops 
  • Kogarah Library, Sutherland Entertainment Centre and local public libraries
  • open space and recreational facilities such as Endeavour Field (Shark Park), Jubilee Oval, Belmore Sports Ground, The Crest Sporting Complex, Bass Hill and local sports ovals.

Creative and cultural expression are also a hallmark of innovation, and innovation underpins the productivity of a 21st century city. Creative industries- a core elements 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 wide range of creative enterprises and opportunities for cultural expression will expand arts and cultural institutions, and support audience and artist participation. Locations to consider for creative industries and cultural enterprises may 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 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. A place-based approach involving artists, cultural organisations and local councils are critical to this plan.

Local cultural and arts networks such as those that centre on facilities like the Bankstown Arts Centre and the Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and workshops recognise that place-based approaches can develop local artistic and creative culture. However, more facilities to support arts and culture are required.

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

South District Social Connectors

Greater use of the public realm for temporary uses, and vacant or underutilised commercial and industrial spaces for arts, events and creative uses can activate places and encourage participation. Investigations of options to reduce the regulatory burden for arts, creative and temporary uses as well as the night-time economy will better match regulations 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. In the South District the capacity for new creative industries may be explored as part of the Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor.

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 to 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, 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 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, specialities and distinctive functions of centres are built. For example, street life is particularly evident in centres like Engadine, Riverwood, Menai, Oatley, Kareela, Cronulla, Lakemba and Bankstown.

In the South 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
  • social infrastructure
  • access to education and learning
  • walkable town centres or eat streets
  • a diverse housing mix (in terms of density, tenure and affordability).

Place-based planning to enhance social connections should focus these activities at the heart of neighbourhoods and in local centres.

A photograph of apartment blocks in Campsie



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 Land 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 better understanding of the nature of social networks and supporting infrastructure in local places.

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