A 20-year vision: Everyone in the Six Cities Region lives in an inclusive and vibrant community that connects them to quality housing, services, jobs and amenities within a 15 minute walk or cycle in their local centre and neighbourhood, and within 30 minutes by public transport to strategic centres, jobs and other key destinations, including health and education.
Local centres that people love
Effective planning for the Six Cities Region will create destinations for work, leisure, business and residential life that generate inclusive economic growth, both locally and for the broader region. The Commission will continue to plan for the place-based investment and linked infrastructure needed to generate widespread social and economic benefits for people, including investment to support access and resilience, social connection, local identity, and civic participation in our public spaces.
Local centres and neighbourhoods where people love to live are made up of many elements: how well connected and walkable they are; how close jobs, local parks and green spaces, shops and services are; how long it takes to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’; how well-located social infrastructure such as schools and health services are; and the quality of these services and amenities.
Vibrant local centres and neighbourhoods that provide equal access to services and amenity
For many communities, living local was an unexpected outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. People found new appreciation for local centres and neighbourhoods and the importance of accessible local amenities and blue and green spaces. However, the pandemic also highlighted unequal access to local jobs, housing, health, aged care, education, open space, waterways and recreational opportunities.
Each local centre needs to be planned and neighbourhoods need to be planned to capitalise on the qualities of each place, including heritage. The Commission’s planning will create and improve 15 minute local centres and neighbourhoods, considering land economics, housing types, active transport, local mobility, digital connection, planning infrastructure upgrades, freight servicing and the factors that create much loved places, such as tree canopy and open spaces.
A stable home also gives people access to social infrastructure and shared spaces, allowing people to be part of a community. Developing amenities and social infrastructure alongside a greater supply of housing is critical to creating quality, equitable places in which people thrive. Housing is discussed in detail in Region Shaper Three, Housing supply, diversity and affordability.
Region Shaper Six ‘Climate-resilient green cities’ explores how our infrastructure will also need to be safe and sustainable so that people can continue to ‘live local’ in homes, communities and cities that drive us towards net zero emissions and mitigate climate-related risks.
The upcoming 2023 Region Plan will emphasise infrastructure delivery and social and environmental infrastructure. It will identify how to create places that are accessible and attractive, with local access to infrastructure, such as the arts and culture, essential services, childcare, cycling pathways, waterways and open spaces. Effective planning for local centres and neighbourhoods should be informed by prioritisation that includes criteria such as infrastructure implementation needs and capacity.
Infrastructure to enable dynamic centres
With the shift in activity from central business districts to local strategic centres expected to continue, town centres and main streets will play an even more important role in community life.
Town centres have moved the focus away from large, physical retail stores and embraced more experience-based mixed uses. Main streets need to offer a mix of tenancies, buildings, transport, arts, hospitality and entertainment choices for the local community. This creates the vibrant culture, equitable and inclusive community, sense of safety and mix of uses that characterise great centres and quality places. The physical characteristics of local centres and neighbourhoods can also shape a cohesive social environment, with inviting public spaces and walkable streets, along with community events, encouraging diverse groups to mix.
Higher density development around public transport nodes connected to infrastructure and homes, with better walking and cycling access, is an efficient and sustainable way of ensuring more people can access services and amenities.
There has been significant investment in public transport infrastructure and upgrades to rail and metro stations, including North West Metro, Parramatta Light Rail, Newcastle Light Rail, CBD and South East Light Rail, and the upcoming Metro West. Our new and expanding network also includes the development of fast rail that links to our regional centres and public transport to the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) and Kingsford Smith airports.
To ensure housing is concentrated in locations that provide a high quality of life, the Commission recommends that precinct density – in appropriate locations, where the benefits of density are greatest – is set in planning instruments at or as soon as possible at the time of transport project approval, to ensure amenities and active transport links are in place.
|Progressing this Region Shaper|
4.1 The City Plans will identify precincts and centres with the most potential to support delivery of housing targets, in line with existing and planned infrastructure. Key locations will be close to stations and transport hubs.
4.2 The City Plans will identify which of the precincts and centres identified under 4.1 would benefit from place strategies to align land use and infrastructure.
4.3 The Commission will consider how business cases and funding decisions can be better aligned to achieve strategic planning priorities, including aligning housing with infrastructure.
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Making active or public transport the preferred choice
Vibrant and inclusive local centres and neighbourhoods are also ones where people are not reliant on cars to access essential services. Planning cities requires a flexible and accessible built environment that supports community health and convenience, which includes active transport options. Active transport supports ageing in place, accessibility, mobility and health, and planning should support wheelchairs, mobility aids, walking and cycling as the preferred modes of transport for local trips. Facilities and services should also be delivered in a way that supports wellbeing, and ensures the choice of readily available active and public transport modes to easily access services, jobs and learning that are near where we live.
|Progressing this Region Shaper|
4.5 The Region Plan and City Plans will set targets to increase walking and cycling trips by up to 30 per cent by 2030 through planning and investment in active transport connections.
4.6 The City Plans will set five, 10 and 20 year targets for mode shift to public transport.