Planning for the future

10 moves to shape our city’s future

We put Sydney under the microscope with the city centre’s most detailed planning review in more than 4 decades.

10 moves to shape Sydney's future

We’ve put Sydney under the microscope, examining block by block the workings of our city.

We’ve poured over the detail, analysing daily movements and connections, along with sunlight access to our significant places, parks and plazas. And we’ve looked at opportunities for areas of growth and how we can meet the infrastructure needs of our communities. This is the most detailed planning review of our city centre in more than 4 decades and it’s a vital blueprint to guiding our future growth.

For the short term, we need to lay the foundations for the road to recovery. How we plan our city will play a large role in this.

For the medium to long term, our city needs to support a further 200,000 jobs over the next 20 years, be resilient to market challenges and stimulate enterprise.

Unlocking opportunities for growth

Under our Sustainable Sydney 2030 vision, we wanted to nurture a competitive global Sydney. This updated framework aims to achieve just that, maintaining central Sydney’s role as Australia’s most productive and attractive city. Sydney needs to maintain its standing as Australian’s economic powerhouse.

Taller buildings can give us more floor space for economic purposes like commercial office space or retail. The framework shows the locations where there is opportunity for the city centre to grow, in some cases making way for buildings 300m tall, while retaining sunlight to our streets and parks.

At the same time, the plan protects our special places and open spaces – including Hyde Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Martin Place – and promotes sustainable outcomes and design excellence in building and public space design.

The plan will help progress our plans for 3 new civic squares along George Street at Circular Quay, Town Hall and near Railway Square. These will provide more pockets of open, community space for everyone to enjoy.

Proposed tower clusters across Central Sydney will help promote employment growth
Proposed tower clusters across Central Sydney will help promote employment growth

Planning for beyond the pandemic

As we pave the way for a recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, good urban planning will help rebuild business confidence and support jobs in small and large enterprise.

We’ve already seen how the NSW Government’s recent changes to planning legislation aims to keep people in jobs and the construction industry moving.

Long-term visioning projects such as our Central Sydney Planning Strategy are key to enabling economic growth post Covid-19, as it sets up a new planning framework that landowners can engage with for their short, medium and long term redevelopment plans.

The 10 moves

  1. Prioritise employment growth and increase capacity for employment in Central Sydney
  2. Ensure tower sites consider wind, sunlight, public views and setbacks for a better experience for the public on city streets
  3. Provide for employment growth throughout the city centre, particularly in new tower clusters that are positioned to protect key public spaces from overshadowing and provide design excellence
  4. Ensure transport and local infrastructure keeps pace with growth and that Sydney is inclusive of all members of society
  5. Demonstrate cutting edge sustainability with a move towards zero net energy for all buildings accessing growth opportunities in the tower clusters and elsewhere in Central Sydney
  6. Protect, enhance and expand Central Sydney’s heritage, public places and spaces. This includes progressing plans for 3 new squares along George Street to improve the liveability of the city centre
  7. Strengthen public open space, accessibility and connections to make moving around the city easier
  8. Promote design excellence by requiring all towers and major development to go through our internationally well-regarded design competition process
  9. Monitor outcomes and respond to issues that arise to ensure Central Sydney’s ongoing success
  10. Simplify and unify Central Sydney to reabsorb The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Ultimo, parts of Pyrmont, and Central station to Cleveland Street as a single planning and consent framework to make planning more consistent and reduce red tape

This draft planning strategy was first considered by Council in 2016. Recent updates to the related planning controls and development contributions are new and open for feedback until Friday 10 July 2020.

See the full framework and give your feedback.

Published 11 June 2020, updated 17 October 2023

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