Sustainable Sydney 2050

Decision Maker: Council

Decision status: Deleted


File No: S051491

Minute by the Lord Mayor

To Council:

When I became Lord Mayor in 2004, the City we inherited was very different to the City of today. In that time, the City of Sydney has developed a global reputation for delivering award winning facilities, protecting and expanding open space, promoting design excellence, delivering new transport options, championing sustainability, supporting and encouraging creativity and initiating progressive solutions to complex city social problems. This hasn’t happened by accident.

In 2007 we developed a long-term strategic plan endorsed by our city communities. It was created after the largest-ever community consultation in the City’s history with tens of thousands of residents and businesses, government and statutory authorities, visitors, and educational and cultural institutions.

We were informed by research and engaged SGS Economics and Planning to lead a team of strategic planning, transport, social, cultural, environmental, governance, design and economics experts and asked them to critically analyse Sydney's strengths and weaknesses. The consortium included respected organisations such as Simpson + Wilson; Hill Thalis; Kenesis; Australia Street Company; Strategic Economics; Geoff Anson; Neil Prosser; Milbur Consulting; anagram Studio; and Griffith University.

And we engaged a team of architects and urban design firms to develop projects, such as Hassell; Bates Smart; McGregor Westlake Architecture; Neeson Murcutt; Russell Olsson Urban Projects; Johnson Pilton Walker; FJMT, Tony Caro Architecture; Tonkin Zulaikha Greer; Lacoste + Stevenson Architects; Merrima Design and Anton James Design.

The result was Sustainable Sydney 2030 which has won wide support and acclaim internationally.

Our consultation showed 97 per cent of people wanted us to take action on climate change. They also said they wanted a city with a strong economy, one that supports the arts and connects its people to each other and the world: A city that was "Green, Global and Connected."

Sustainable Sydney 2030 has been the cornerstone of everything we do and we constantly refer to it and update it as circumstances change.

Our long term planning, our accountability, transparency and progressive policies, and the fact that we are corruption free and take action on commitments has contributed to our remarkable track record, reputation and international profile.

We have delivered debt-free budgets, invested in property and responsibly managed our finances so we can fund new infrastructure and services.  We give free rates to pensioners and our average residential rates are amongst the lowest in the Sydney metropolitan area. We’ve approved $25 billion worth of high-quality private sector development with significant urban renewal underway, including the restoration of many public facilities and parks.

Some projects have included:

·             a new Surry Hills Library;

·             Pirrama Park and the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre in Pyrmont/ Ultimo;

·             Prince Alfred Park and Pool and Harmony Park in Surry Hills;

·             The Glebe Foreshore;

·             Sydney Park in St Peters;

·             Redfern Park and Oval;

·             Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst;

·             Paddington Reservoir Gardens;

·             Rushcutters Bay Park Tennis Courts, Kiosk and historic Grand stand;

·             Upgrades to Sydney, Glebe, Erskineville, Paddington and Alexandria Town Halls;

·             construction of 12.8km of separated cycleways, 60km of shared paths and 40km of other infrastructure as part of our bike network. Key routes include Union Street in Pyrmont and Kent and College Streets in the City as well as Bourke Street from Woolloomoolloo to Redfern and Bourke Road in Alexandria;

·             upgrade of Pitt Street Mall;

·             upgrades to Jubilee Park in Glebe and Fitzroy Gardens in Kings Cross;

·             The East Sydney Community Arts Centre and upgrade to the Juanita Nielsen Community Centre in Woolloomooloo;

·             The East Sydney, Crescent (Annandale) and Green Square Early Learning Centres;

·             The Green Square Library (soon to open); and

·             Wulaba Park in Green Square.

Since 2004, we’ve completed over 250 projects including parks, playgrounds, childcare, pools, libraries, theatres, community and cultural spaces. We’ve won over 130 national and international awards for design excellence and sustainability.

We’ve delivered over 77 new or upgraded local parks and 46 new or upgraded playgrounds; planted 12,329 street trees, provided over 78,211 square metres of landscaping, and 154 raingardens.

We’re building a network of bike lanes, upgrading footpaths and city laneways and we were a key driver in Sydney’s small bar revolution.

We’ve taken the lead on Green Square, one of the country’s largest urban renewal projects and developed a fully costed, comprehensive infrastructure plan investing a $1.3 billion on public infrastructure, with $450 million for community facilities.

We’ve worked with our First Nations peoples and Advisory Panel to celebrate their living culture through our Eora Journey project which includes the creation of seven major public artworks and an economic development plan. We’ve already delivered the striking ‘YININMADYEMI Thou didst let fall in Hyde Park and recently released plans for ‘Bara’.

We’ve delivered 835 new affordable housing dwellings with 1,008 more in the pipeline. After many years our proposal to extend the affordable housing levy across the entire local government area has been approved for public exhibition and could deliver up to 3,600 more affordable homes. And in the 2017/18 financial year City-funded services helped more than 320 people into supported housing and prevented 450 more from becoming homeless.

We’ve worked directly with the private sector to deliver over 2,300 extra childcare places since June 2013 and have more in the pipeline to end the childcare shortage. We operate or lease 25 childcare centres, providing around 15 per cent of all places in our area.

We’ve invested $100 million in grants and sponsorship in the last decade to deliver programs and events that allow people to actively participate in our city’s social and cultural life.

We’ve established successful partnerships, working with business and other cities around the world, to help us achieve our outcomes. They include the Better Building Partnership, City Switch, 100 Resilient Cities and the C40 Climate Leadership Group.

We’ve reduced emissions in our own operations by 25 per cent and been carbon neutral since 2007. Across our local government area, we’ve helped drive emissions down by 20 per cent at a time of unprecedented economic growth - proving that ambitious action on climate change is possible and compatible with strong economic growth.

Since 2004, the City economy grew by $64 billion, more than two thirds in real terms (over and above inflation). Our economy now totals around $125 billion. It’s 22 per cent of the NSW economy and along with other major capital cities contributes more than 10 per cent of Australia’s current economic growth – overtaking the mining sector as the driver of Australia’s economy.

Our work at the City has contributed to this phenomenal growth which has made our area Australia’s epicentre of jobs and job growth - in the ten years to 2017, job numbers grew by 110,000 to 498,000, or by almost 30 per cent.

Late last year, the City’s financial records and plans were reviewed by the State Government audit office and presented to State Parliament for the first time. The Auditor General reported that “the transformation of the City over the past decade has been remarkable and an achievement to be proud of.”

These achievements are just a fraction of the wonderful work our staff have undertaken guided by Sustainable Sydney 2030.

A decade has now passed since our strategic plan was first developed and in that time the effects of urbanisation, globalisation and climate change are increasingly challenging cities around the world, including Sydney, in more urgent ways.

The City was tasked by the State Government to meet housing targets for our area. To protect existing heritage villages, we focused on urban renewal in former industrial and sporting sites such as Harold Park, Ashmore and Green Square. We committed to design excellence and to provide the community infrastructure needed to support the growing community.

Recent reports show that from 2001 to 2017, the level of density in the City of Sydney increased by 80.6 per cent – making us the second fastest growing area in NSW after Camden (93.1 per cent). When compared to other areas – Strathfield (49 per cent), Parramatta (43.1 per cent), Campbelltown (10.1 per cent), Mosman (10.7 per cent) and Sutherland Shire (6.9 per cent) – it is obvious that the City has carried our fair share of the State demand to provide new housing.

Our development is held up as exemplary but we are still looking to the State Government to meet all of its responsibilities.

In many cases we’ve had to make the investment just to get State projects on the drawing board such as Green Square trunk drainage, the Green Square public school and light rail. We secured the $40 million Eastern Transit Corridor for light rail – which Infrastructure Australia nominated as a high priority.

Despite our achievements, the Government has imposed a growing number of ‘State Significant’ developments in our area, ignoring our planning regulations and community outrage. It has added or is proposing to add new developments without consideration of existing density and infrastructure.

Other projects like WestConnex, going ahead despite no clear rationale and an overwhelming opposition from the community, have also taken a toll, threatening the city’s liveability and the future of our global city centre.

All this has seen increasing pressure on schools, early education and care facilities in our area, as well as on open space, transport and other infrastructure.

Given these factors it is clear that we must carefully consider additional growth in our area.

Conservative Australian Governments have shamefully ignored the threat of climate change and every year we pass ‘record’ increases in temperature and see extreme weather, such as heatwaves, storms, flooding, droughts and fires become the norm rather than the exception.

Sydney’s night-time economy and cultural life has suffered from the impacts of the NSW Government’s lockout laws with many venues closing or no longer programming music or live entertainment. The pace of urban development and increased property prices has squeezed the availability of affordable creative space. Inconsistent and overly-restrictive regulation is inhibiting new and existing cultural and creative activities.

We’ve seen rising inequality, homelessness and mental illness as well as high and increasing levels of obesity, and growing lone-person households at risk of social isolation.

In the last decade, we’ve seen an increase in security threats around the world and technology is continually evolving with ‘smart’ cities on the rise.

We know all these issues will have significant impacts on the future of our city and our communities. And while Sustainable Sydney 2030 provides us with the strategies needed to deal with most of these challenges – I believe it is time we look beyond 2030.

The State Government requires councils to have strategic plans that have a minimum lifespan of 10 years. In 2021, when the next mandatory review must be adopted, Sustainable Sydney 2030 will no longer meet that requirement.

Recently, the NSW Government released regional and district plans by the Greater Sydney Commission and their Future Transport Strategy all of which include planning up to 2056. We should also be looking at a similar timeline.

Sustainable Sydney 2030 was developed after the largest-ever community consultation program in the City’s history. I believe we should conduct another extensive consultation program in the development of a new plan to ensure it is again led by the community and informed by research and technical advice. It should also look to the recently developed Resilient Sydney strategy.

We know the original framework used for Sustainable Sydney 2030 has worked. It has helped us deliver unprecedented achievements for our community and been used by other cities as the inspiration in developing their own plans.

This new plan should keep our 2030 framework and committed targets as well as set new targets for the decades beyond 2030 to 2050.

We need to consider the kind of city people will inherit in 10, 20 and even 30 years’ time. Answers to that question must be informed by the aspirations of our community, relevant and up to date research and collaboration with business and other levels of government.

It’s what we did in developing Sustainable Sydney 2030 and the results show what can be achieved with good governance, long term vision and sustained, ethical leadership. I am so proud of our work so far and look forward to developing Sustainable Sydney 2050.


It is resolved that Council:

(A)          request the CEO to begin the work to develop Sustainable Sydney 2050 incorporating the Resilient Sydney Strategy and including a comprehensive plan to engage residents and businesses, government and statutory authorities, visitors, educational institutions and the cultural and creative sectors; and

(B)          note that the funding for the research and engagement required for this important review has been included in the 2018/19 budget.


Lord Mayor

Moved by the Chair (the Lord Mayor) –

That the Minute by the Lord Mayor be endorsed and adopted.

Carried unanimously.

Report author: Andrea Beattie

Publication date: 13/08/2018

Date of decision: 13/08/2018

Decided at meeting: 13/08/2018 - Council

Accompanying Documents: