Better streets and spaces

Big ideas for Sydney’s future that put people first

Explore a new vision for our city centre with 3 new squares and more room for walking, cycling and relaxing.

In Between Two Worlds

Public Space and Public Life by world-leading urban design firm Gehl provides an exciting new vision for Sydney’s future.

Based on international best practice and data, the study for the City of Sydney looks beyond traffic and basic infrastructure to help create a city where people want to live, visit, work and spend time.

The study documents several issues facing the city centre. These include cars dominating the streets, buses using too many roads, crowded footpaths and the need to complete a separated bike network.

Kimber Lane before and after
Kimber Lane before and after

Its 4 main recommendations are for a green and cool city, a connected people-friendly centre, inclusive and welcoming features that invite more people to take part in civic life, and more comfortable and creative spaces.

“Cities need to be enjoyable to walk through and relax in,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

Pitt Street before and after
Pitt Street before and after

“More quality public space, or outdoor living rooms where people can meet and socialise, supports a healthier, more equitable and economically viable city centre.

“The pandemic has thrown a spotlight on how critical quality outdoor public space and active transport links are. It has also shown that through strong partnerships between all levels of government, businesses and the community, we can transform our city.”

Broadway before and after
Broadway before and after

The study’s recommendations include:

A green and cool city

  • A greater tree canopy and more shade structures and awnings
  • Continued work on reducing emissions, waste and water use
  • Better links between the city, parklands and harbour

A protected heart

  • Streets that focus on people instead of traffic
  • Easy access to Sydney Metro, train and light rail
  • More space for walking and staying in the city
  • A city centre cycle network that connects to other networks to make it easier to ride
  • A review of the Western Distributor and Cahill Expressway roads

A city for all

  • More attractive spaces for more people day and night, with more facilities for children, inclusive events, streets that close at lunchtime, better use of community buildings and free wifi
  • More opportunities for residents and business to shape outcomes for public spaces
  • Better use of public life and public spaces data to inform decision-making

City identity

  • A George Street linked by squares at Circular Quay, Sydney Town Hall and Central
  • More space for people to move around and stay more comfortably in the city
  • The expanded pedestrianisation of George Street with nearby streets made greener and more people-friendly
  • Public art that expresses Sydney's identity and engages more people

Loftus Street before and after
Loftus Street before and after

“City centres are important, and what were once considered radical ideas have been implemented with urgency over the past year,” world-renowned Danish urban designer Jan Gehl said.

“We’ve been jolted into seeing what qualities our shared spaces – or lack thereof – truly provide for daily life and collective wellbeing. With this new, visceral perspective of place, we have better conditions for people, to walk, bike and gather in cities.

“It’s been a privilege to watch Sydney tackle its challenges and a greener and more people- friendly city is emerging. Mindsets have changed and I really look forward to witnessing the city’s ongoing transformation in the coming years.”

Find out more about the Public Space and Public Life study "Public Spaces Public Life").

Published 30 April 2021, updated 4 May 2021