Sydney is set to be transformed with new public spaces in an effort to assist new social distancing norms as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

An extension of George Street’s car-free zone in the Sydney CBD and a new ‘people’s loop’ in Parramatta Park have been given the green light as part of a new $15 million Streets as Shared Spaces program.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister, Rob Stokes, announced three trial pedestrianisation programs alongside the Streets as Shared Spaces program that will fund council projects to provide more space for communities to safely walk, cycle and exercise.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the demand for more public spaces – and easy, safe access to them,” Mr Stokes said.

“Whether it’s new cycle lanes, pedestrian-only streets or wider footpaths, we’re committed to working with councils and communities to fund projects that can make life better for everyone – both now and once the pandemic is over.” 

Councils will be able to apply for Streets as Shared Spaces program grants of up to $100,000 for immediate temporary projects, such as widening footpaths and cycle lanes, and up to $1 million for medium-term pilot projects, such as extra crossing points, wider kerbs and trialling lower speed limits. 

The community can also submit their ideas for local projects through an new online social pinpoint map that allows users to click on an area and leave their comments and ideas. The three trial programs announced so far include:

  • Eastern Harbour City: the NSW Government is partnering with the City of Sydney to extend George Street’s car-free zone in both directions between Bathurst and Campbell Streets, and extended in the southbound direction to Rawson Place. The existing temporary closure in the southbound direction from Bathurst to Campbell Street will be made permanent.
  • Central River City: the World Heritage-listed Parramatta Park’s People Loop Trial will see temporary changes made to vehicle access, parking and circulation for two-months from 19 May 2020, to improve the experience of walking and cycling in the Park.
  • Western Parkland City: the NSW Government is partnering with Liverpool City Council to install temporary street furniture and trees to slow vehicle traffic and pedestrianise the laneway behind Railway Street in the Liverpool City Centre.

Transport for NSW has worked with the City of Sydney to continue to deliver on the benefits of the Light Rail to transform George Street into the civic spine of the CBD.

Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said the George Street light rail has changed not just how people get around the city, but how they experience the city.

“With new street trees, planter boxes, outdoor dining, seating and pedestrianisation, people were already taking back and enjoying George Street before COVID-19 hit. When the crisis passes, it will once again be a place to linger and gather rather than just hurrying through,” Ms Moore said.

The Streets as Shared Spaces program will also help the NSW Government reach its ambitious target to increase the proportion of homes in urban areas within 10 minutes’ walk of quality green, open and public space by 10 per cent by 2023.

Councils can apply for Streets as Shared Spaces grants until 10 June 2020.

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