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Services and infrastructure meet communities' changing needs

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
Objective 6

Greater Sydney is growing at the same time as major demographic changes are occurring.

Between 2016 and 2036 the number of infants aged 0-4 years is projected to increase by 85,000 and there are projected to be 333,000 more children and young people aged 5-19 than today. Also the proportion of the population over 65 years of age is projected to increase from 13 to 18 per cent. Over the same period the number of working age people (aged 20-65) is expected to decrease from 62 to 58 per cent.

These changing demographics will affect the types and distribution of services and infrastructure required in neighbourhoods and cities, which will be supported by the smaller working population. Services and infrastructure need to be tailored to meet the varying needs of population groups. Publicly owned land and social housing renewal may provide opportunities to co-locate social infrastructure and provide mixed uses at the heart of neighbourhoods.

Improved health, public transport and accessibility outcomes can be achieved through the provision of schools, recreation, transport, arts and cultural, community and health facilities in walkable, mixeduse places co-located with social infrastructure and local services (refer to Objective 7 and Objective 14). Good accessibility to local services for young people, older people and culturally and linguistically diverse communities is an important way of enabling people to age within their community. This contributes to improved mental and physical health and wellbeing outcomes.

Delivery of the necessary facilities and services to meet people's changing needs requires integrated planning and collaboration amongst a broad range of stakeholders. This includes considering the provision of services for both existing and planned new communities as well as the principles of intergenerational equity.


Schools are essential local infrastructure. The NSW Department of Education estimates that an extra 270,000 students will need to be accommodated in government and non-government schools in Greater Sydney by 2036. Demand for school places will vary across Greater Sydney. The Department of Education's high-level School Assets Strategic Plan Summary coordinates planning for, and delivery of, both new and expanded schools. It encourages the joint and shared use of facilities with local governments and the private sector to develop innovative ways to provide school infrastructure.

The NSW Government will spend $4.2 billion over the next four years on building and upgrading schools, including the addition of more than 1,500 new classrooms providing places for 32,000 students. Many new and expanded schools will be in growth areas including Camden, Riverstone, Penrith and Bella Vista. Innovations such as contemporary design, flexible learning spaces and more efficient use of land will be essential responses to growth and changing demand. Shared use of facilities and increased opportunities for students to walk and cycle to school will better connect schools with local communities.

Joint and shared use

Joint and shared use of facilities is encouraged to make school assets available to the community outside school hours and to give schools access to community facilities.

Joint use involves a school and a community partner funding shared facilities, such as building and operating a sportsground with a local council.

Shared use is where a school allows community use of school facilities during out-of-school hours.

Each neighbourhood has facilities such as libraries, community centres, adult education, sport and recreation facilities that function to enhance and promote social connections and networks within the community.

Schools are an important example of social connectors and where shared use of such facilities is achieved their function as a community hub is significantly enhanced (refer to Objective 7).

Photograph of a male Carpentry and Joinery student at Gymea TAFE.

Carpentry and Joinery (Gymea TAFE)

Planning for early education and child care facilities requires innovative approaches to the use of land and floor space, including co-location with compatible uses such as primary schools and office buildings, close to transport facilities.

Tertiary education and vocational training facilities together with lifelong learning opportunities allow people to gain and refine skills for employment. This supports productivity but also allows people to connect with other people in the community, supporting enhanced social cohesion.

Education and Child Care SEPP

State Environmental Planning Policy (Educational Establishments and Child Care Facilities) 2017 makes it easier for child care providers, schools, TAFEs and universities to build new facilities and improve existing facilities. It streamlines approval processes, recognising the need for additional educational infrastructure with a focus on good design. The accompanying Child Care Planning Guideline assists in matters such as site selection, location and building design to meet national requirements for child care.

The needs of children and young people go beyond education facilities. With families increasingly living in higher density areas, there needs to be greater importance placed on how open spaces, cultural facilities and the public realm are planned, designed and managed to include children and young people (refer to Objective 7 and Objective 12).

The Office of the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People's NSW Strategic Plan for Children and Young People is the first legislated three-year wholeof- government plan focused on children and young people aged 0-24 years. It aims to give children and young people opportunities to thrive, get the services they need and have their voices heard.

Health services

Integrated planning for health services will make it easier for people to access a comprehensive health system including general practice, community health services, in-home and aged care, medical centres, pharmacies, dental and allied health services. Strategic planning will continue to respond to the changing nature of health service delivery providing accessibility for patients, visitors and staff in well-located health facilities. The co-location of health, higher education and related activities such as research, housing for health workers and students, short-term accommodation, and complementary commercial uses supports collaboration, innovation and accessibility outcomes (refer to Objective 21).

Figure 12 shows greater proportional increases in people aged over 65 years in local government areas within the Western Parkland and Central River cities. These cities will experience much greater demand from older people for health, social and aged care services than currently exists.

Tailored services and infrastructure is required for people to age within their communities where being close to friends, family and support networks improves their wellbeing. This means local access to health services, transport and social infrastructure which may require more innovative approaches to delivery (refer to Objective 3).

In an age-friendly city, policies, services and infrastructure support and enable people to age actively, which means optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life3.

Digital technologies are increasingly improving the capacity of health and social services to be accessed from home. As this enables more people to age in their communities there will be increased demand for local aged care facilities as well as housing diversity for downsizing allowing for in-home care with associated parking.

Photograph of the exterior of Blacktown Hospital School of Medicine.

Blacktown Hospital School of Medicine (NSW Health).

Figure 12: Projected spatial pattern of population increase over 65 years from 2016 to 2036

Download this image gsrp_figure_12.jpg (format PNG / 669 KB )


Physical, social and spatial accessibility is important across all ages and abilities and is a key part of planning for a female-friendly region. A region that is female-friendly applies the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and is safer and more accessible for all people.

Places and transport designed to be accessible by all people, and homes that can be easily adapted to house older people and people with a disability, are increasingly required as the population grows and demographics change.

Universal design

Universal design describes homes and places that can be accessed, understood and used by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. Universal design provides safer homes that are easier to enter, move around and live in, and that can be adapted to the changing needs of occupants over time. It benefits the whole community from young families to older people, their visitors, and those with permanent or temporary disabilities4.

If 20 per cent of new homes were of universal design, savings to the Australian health system of $37 million-$54.5 million per year could arise through reduced hospital stays, accommodation, health and in-home care. Construction costs are approximately one to two per cent more for universal housing5.

Cemeteries and crematoria are key social infrastructure that also need to be accessible geographically and economically, and reflective of a diversity of cultures and backgrounds. A growing Greater Sydney requires additional land for burials and cremations with associated facilities such as reception space and car parking.

Strategy 6.1

Deliver social infrastructure that reflects the needs of the community now and in the future.

Strategy 6.2

Optimise the use of available public land for social infrastructure.