Public open space is a form of green infrastructure that enhances the character of the South District's neighbourhoods, supports healthy and active lifestyles, and brings communities together. As the District grows, providing for and developing innovative ways to optimise open space areas for recreation, sport and social activities, as well as establishing physical links that support social networks and create a sense of community, will become increasingly important. Delivering connected walking and cycling trails will maximise their use.
The key considerations for planning open space are quality, quantity and distribution. The Greater Sydney Green Grid will help improve access and distribution. There will be relatively few opportunities to increase the quantity of public open space, and therefore greater emphasis will be needed on improving the quality and distribution of open space, including sporting facilities.
Councils already identify innovative solutions for the shortfall in active open space, including making better use of existing sportsgrounds, converting existing open space into sports fields, and partnering with schools to share spaces outside school hours.
Urban renewal also creates opportunities to increase the quantity of open space. Planning for urban renewal needs to consider opportunities to deliver open space including space for active sport and recreation. High density development (over 60 dwellings per hectare) should be located within 200 metres of quality open space and all dwellings should be within 400 metres of open space.
People in urban neighbourhoods should be able to walk to local open space. In high density neighbourhoods, public open space is used like a shared backyard, providing a green communal living space. Open space in high density neighbourhoods needs to be durable, multipurpose and accessible to a variety of users. High density neighbourhoods also need to have high quality open space within close proximity.
In local and strategic centres, Planned Precincts and Growth Areas, local open space is important to provide places for workers to relax and for people to meet and socialise. It also provides for tree and vegetation planting in the centre. Place-based planning can identify opportunities to improve the quality, management and use of existing open space, and to provide new open space.
While 42 per cent of the South District is open space, most of this (87 per cent) is protected in national parks and reserves and large areas of urban bushland. Local parks, open spaces and pockets of native vegetation comprise the remaining 13 per cent and provide local access to the Greater Sydney Green Grid26. The District's beaches, estuaries and waterways are part of the District's open space.
Existing open space within the District is shown in Figure 23.
Nature-based recreation also helps connect communities to the natural landscape. Demand for nature-based recreation will need to be managed to minimise impacts on biodiversity.
Figure 23: South District access to open space
Almost 98 per cent of the District's residents live within 400 metres of open space (refer to Figure 23)27. For people living in high density areas, access to local open space within the recommended 200 metres is poor along Canterbury Road and the T3 Bankstown Line, particularly between Campsie and Wiley Park.
Open space for organised outdoor sport makes up only four per cent of the local open space in the District28. The District is characterised by high levels of participation in organised sports, which results in considerable wear and tear on playing fields and places demands on councils to maintain these facilities for year-round use. A trend towards greater participation in sport by women and people over 35, as well as a trend towards indoor sports and sports requiring less space such as futsal, is changing patterns of demand for sports fields and facilities.
Open space within school grounds is a potential asset that could be shared by the wider community outside of school hours. Additional open space areas and sports and recreation facilities, as well as innovative use of existing areas and facilities will be required, especially in areas where residential density is increasing and there is limited scope to provide additional capacity. This includes the Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor and along Canterbury Road.
Urban renewal and infrastructure programs should result in a net increase in open space. Where the future of any larger spaces used for activities such as golf courses are uncertain, due to declining membership and attendance figures, any land or facilities in public ownership should be retained as open space and transition to shared open space and facilities including for organised sports. For land in private ownership, there may be opportunities for part of the land to be repurposed or set aside for open or shared spaces.
The Government Architect NSW is developing an open space toolkit, a resource for councils to use for open space planning.