National parks, harbours, beaches, coastal walks, waterfront promenades, rivers, parks and playgrounds are integral to the character and life of Greater Sydney. This network of open spaces, including sportsgrounds, is a form of green infrastructure which supports sustainable, efficient and resilient communities. Open space expands people's sense of home to include the wider local area and shared communal spaces and facilities.
The key considerations for planning open spaces are quantity, quality and distribution (see Figure 53). Understanding the open space, sport and recreation needs of the community will help determine the quantity, quality and distribution that is required. The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is preparing an open space manual, as part of a green infrastructure policy framework, to help guide the delivery of high quality open space. Recognising open space as an element of green infrastructure can provide multiple benefits, including healthy waterways, local habitat and cooler more attractive neighbourhoods. The Greater Sydney Green Grid, which aims to create a network of high quality open spaces (refer to Objective 32) also helps to connect more open spaces to communities.
Access to high quality open space is becoming increasingly important as higher housing densities, more compact housing and changing work environments develop. Where land for additional open space is difficult to provide, innovative solutions will be needed, as well as a strong focus on achieving the right quality and diversity of open space.
Enhancing open space so it can meet a wider range of community needs is important in areas where it is difficult to provide additional open space. This can include better landscaping, more durable and high quality facilities, better lighting and multi-use playing fields and courts.
Using existing open space assets wisely, and sharing them more broadly, is an important response to rising demand for open space. Open spaces within school grounds are a potential asset that could be shared by the wider community outside of school hours. The use of golf courses may also be examined to provide a wider range of sport and recreational facilities for local communities. In addition, there may be opportunities to use surplus governmentowned land as open space including for sport and recreational facilities.
Urban renewal needs to begin with a plan to deliver new, improved and accessible open spaces that will meet the needs of the growing community, particularly where density increases. 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.
Figure 53: Considerations for planning open space
Maximise the use of existing open space and protect, enhance and expand public open space by:
- providing opportunities to expand a network of diverse, accessible, high quality open spaces that respond to the needs and values of communities as populations grow
- investigating opportunities to provide new open space so that all residential areas are within 400 metres of open space and all high density residential areas (over 60 dwellings per hectare) are within 200 metres of open space
- requiring large urban renewal initiatives to demonstrate how the quantity of, or access to high quality and diverse local open space is maintained or improved
- planning new neighbourhoods with a sufficient quantity and quality of new open space
- delivering shared and co-located sports and recreational facilities including shared school grounds and repurposed golf courses
- delivering or complementing the Greater Sydney Green Grid
- providing walking and cycling links for transport as well as leisure and recreational trips.