2030 Report Back Day 2011

(31 August 2011, Sydney Town Hall)

Thank you, Adam Spencer, and welcome. I would like firstly to acknowledge the traditional custodians of our land, and I pay my respects to their Elders, both past and present.

Today, I want to tell you about our progress implementing Sustainable Sydney 2030.

The City of Sydney's communities are diverse.

The 26 square kilometres of our local government area are home to around 183,000 residents, up 40 per cent from 130,000 a decade ago—making us the fastest growing LGA in the state over the past decade.

Our community includes people from 200 different nationalities as well as 2000 Aboriginal Australians and one third of residents are born overseas. Just under ten per cent of our residents are of Chinese ancestry, with high numbers also from Korea and Indonesia—many of whom are university students.

We have a high proportion of people on low incomes, as well as some of the highest incomes in the state. Homeless people live side by side with millionaires.

And despite our relatively small geographical size, inner Sydney drives our State's economy.

It generates 25 per cent of NSW's gross domestic product - and one twelfth of Australia's. That's approximately $85 billion—up there with the mining industry.

We have 20,000 businesses, with a workforce of 390,000 people. A million people are in our area daily to transact business, deliver freight, attend universities, or to shop, socialise or visit any one of our many cultural venues.

And despite the rising value of the Australian dollar, we now welcome over four million visitors each year, including 2.9 million international visitors. To most people, inner Sydney is the global face of Australia.

SUSTAINABLE SYDNEY 2030: AN EXTRAORDINARY CONSENSUS

In 2006, the City of Sydney commissioned extensive research and initiated unprecedented consultation to plan for our City's future. We spent a year talking and listening to our diverse communities.

People told us they value Sydney's social cohesion and diversity and want it strengthened; they want a lively night-life, with a greater choice of venues and activities; they want improved public spaces and a green city; and they want opportunities for artists, writers and start-up businesses.

They want Sydney to retain its liveability while continuing to evolve as Australia's global gateway; to be a city which reaches out to Asia while providing for our indigenous and immigrant communities.

We heard support for traditional city design with its small blocks, fine-grained diversity of uses, and housing and businesses oriented to the street—because it makes cities safer, more accessible, more sociable, and more sustainable.

The result was an extraordinary consensus around what needs to be done: tackling climate change, cutting traffic congestion, and reconnecting Sydney to its harbour and surrounding villages.

We summed up the aspirations in the words: Green, Global and connected.

And we established 10 "Strategic Directions" with key projects.

We consulted, we researched, we committed and now we are delivering—and that's what I want to tell you about today.

TEN STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS

Our first strategic direction is for a globally competitive and innovative City.

Over the past 12 months, we have made important progress to provide for future growth and deliver world-class infrastructure to support the City's prosperity.

Key achievements include:

  • The exhibition of the new Local Environment Plan and Development Control Plan, which will enable responsible growth to achieve 86 per cent of our 2030 target of 48,000 new dwellings (about 80,100 new residents) and 97,000 new jobs. We are now reviewing public input.
  • In the last 12 months, we assessed over 3,500 development applications with a value of over two billion dollars.
  • We progressed negotiations with key land owners in Green Square Town Centre to deliver Green Infrastructure. The new planning controls are in the final stage of exhibition.
  • We advocated strongly to improve development at Barangaroo through detailed submissions and public information sessions. Council last week nominated a new representative on the Barangaroo Delivery Authority Board (Kerry Clare, with Michael Harrison as her alternate).
  • We completed the upgrade of Pitt St Mall and saw the new $860 million Westfield Shopping Centre opened.
  • We established a Retail Advisory Panel to bring city retailers together with the NSW Government and the City.
  • We appointed Mark Newson as New Year's Eve artistic director for the next three years. Last year, this important event promoted Sydney to 1.5 million live participants and one billion TV viewers.
  • We sponsored commercial events to the value of $285,000.
  • We sponsored commercial creative events including Australian Fashion Week and major musicals such as Doctor Zhivago and Mary Poppins, as well as the Youtube Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Fashion Festival, and Vogue Fashion Night Out.

In addition, the City has worked with Events NSW to secure the World Premiere of Strictly Ballroom (in 2013) and the Australian Premiere of Legally Blonde (2012) and Adams Family Musical (2013).

Our Small Business Awards this year attracted a 12 per cent increase in nominees on 2010 figures, and a record 65,000 votes - up by 30 per cent. We've now selected 175 finalists from the record 640 nominations, and the Gala Awards Dinner will be held next month.

The spectacular Chinese New Year Twilight Parade once again broke its own records, attracting a crowd of over 100,000 people to George Street and a 20 per cent increase in the number of visitors to the Belmore Park Noodle Markets.

Our second direction is a leading environmental performer.

To play our part in addressing climate change, the City committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent of 2006 levels by 2030. Our target is depicted in our waterfall chart and we are on track to overcome the 17 per cent shortfall that we identified in 2008.

This year, we completed a trial of energy-efficient LED street lights and are negotiating a contract for City-owned street lights, which could reduce emissions from this source by 40 per cent.

We've completed an interim trigeneration master plan and are negotiating for a provider to supply trigen for our buildings. We'll establish the first low carbon precincts in Green Square, on the CUB site and UTS, and at Town Hall. This could expand to Martin Place and we hope to Barangaroo.

Our trigen network is the central feature of our innovative Green Infrastructure Plan, which will be completed this year, guiding delivery of sustainable energy, water and waste infrastructure across our City. New recycled water and automated waste collection facilities will be co-located with tri-generation infrastructure.

The City formally supported a price on carbon pollution, which will give greater certainty in the shift to renewable energy sources.

We have signed an agreement with the 13 property companies that own 60 per cent of all commercial buildings in CBD to work with us on building efficiency and the installation of trigeneration. The founding members of what we have called the "Better Building Partnership" are: AMP Capital Investors, Brookfield Office Properties Australia, Charter Hall, Colonial First State Property Global Asset Management, DEXUS, GPT Group, Investa Property Group, Lend Lease, Mirvac, Stockland, Frasers Property, the University of Sydney, and the University of Technology Sydney.

Our CitySwitch program to promote office energy efficiency with building tenants now includes 78 tenancies in Sydney, covering 878,300 square metres of floor space—68 per cent of our state target.

We are supporting community champions to reduce their environmental footprint, with over 23,000 residents involved in workshops and events such as the Garage Sale Trail, receiving our on-line newsletter, or visiting the Green Living Centre in Newtown.

The Smart Business Live Green program, a partnership with Sydney Water, has been extended for two more years to help businesses with up to 200 staff audit and manage their energy, water and waste.

And next month, we're launching our new Green Apartment Buildings program. We'll work with residents, owners and service providers of 30 apartment buildings to reduce energy and water consumption, reduce general consumption and increase recycling.

We have regular e-waste and toxic chemical waste collections for residents, and have a target to divert 66 per cent of waste from landfill by 2014. In 2010 our resource recovery rate was 57 per cent and we expect to exceed our 2014 target this year.

The City is investing in greener vehicles, cutting back our fleet by 30 per cent in the past five years. We've added hybrid cars and this year began trialling two of the first electric cars available in Australia.

A Federal grant last August is contributing to our $18 million water savings plan through projects at Sydney Park and Green Square. 740 million litres of stormwater will be captured and filtered, reducing mains water use and preventing more than 500,000 kilograms of pollutants entering the Cooks River.

And the City won a Stormwater Industry Association award for our Raingardens, which filter stormwater and reduce pollution entering our waterways—with gardens in Chippendale, Glebe, Pyrmont, Redfern, Zetland and Surry Hills.

In April, our Sydney Town Hall restoration won the National Trust Heritage Award for energy management, recognising it as a benchmark sustainable conservation project.

Our work was acknowledged at the Premier's Green Globe Awards in July, with the City winning the Green Globe 10 Year Sustainability Award.

Our third strategic direction is integrated transport for a connected city.

A sustainable transport network will deliver more and healthier choices: walking, cycling, buses, light rail, train, ferries, taxi and car share—and address growing congestion.

"Business as usual" is not an option—we simply can't accommodate the predicted vehicle growth.

In 2009, congestion cost Sydney $4.6 billion. That's forecast to rise to $8 billion by 2020. The costs include travel time, unreliability, higher fuel costs and air pollution.

In Sydney's CBD, there are nearly 100,000 car trips and 6,000 bus movements each weekday. It makes our city unpleasant and unhealthy for the 600,000 visitors, shoppers, workers and residents who walk around it each day.

We're working with the State Government to improve bus reliability, as we all know there is a need for new investment in light rail, heavy rail, cycling and walking. The State Government's commitment to light rail is progress, especially the willingness to explore further routes through the inner east to create an effective network.

The City of Sydney is ready to contribute through planning support and essential public domain works. We have committed $180 million for public domain in George Street to support the State's light rail plans.

People use public transport if it's accessible, reliable and reasonably priced. Since the Green Square station access fee was removed earlier this year—something we have long advocated—there's been a 50 per cent increase in patronage.

The City has recently purchased land for part of a new public transport corridor to provide mass transit to Green Square's growth, and we are seeking state and federal action to secure the entire corridor for Australia's largest urban renewal project.

Council has updated its car share policy to expand this convenient, cost effective and sustainable transport option. One car share vehicle can replace up to ten private vehicles that would otherwise compete for local parking space. We now have 284 allocated spaces and the service is used by 7,000 members, including 1,500 businesses.

And well over 1000 motorbike and scooter spaces have now been provided.

Many things that should be relatively simple turn out to be hard in Sydney—for example, providing more signalised crossings, greater priority for pedestrians at crossings, bike connections beyond the city boundaries, or implementing integrated fares.

Our fourth strategic direction, a city for pedestrians and cyclists, seeks to overcome these challenges for the eighty-five per cent of people who come to our city centre by public transport, walking or cycling.

40km zones to improve traffic flows and calm the streets in central Sydney will be introduced by the end of this calendar year, following extensive work with the RTA. And we are making progress in reducing waiting times for pedestrians at traffic lights.

It is important to give people who live close to the city options for shorter trips and that's why the City is building a 200 kilometre bicycle network. We know cycling is not for everyone but more people are getting on a bike, and we need to make it safe and viable for those who want the option.

This year we completed the Bourke Street cycleway from Woolloomooloo to Waterloo, which was quickly christened "The Woop" by cyclists. This is part of an important seven-kilometre corridor that will link cyclists from the south and the east into the city.

We also opened the Kent Street cycleway in the CBD, connecting west through Pyrmont and north to the Harbour Bridge. When complete to Liverpool Street, it will add an important corridor to Darling Harbour and the south west.

Our next major bike route will link College Street south along Wentworth Avenue, through Prince Alfred Park and on to Redfern, creating another vital corridor to the south.

Although the network is not finished, as soon as we do finish a link, people start using it. Over the past year the number of bike trips has doubled and tripled on some cycleway links we've built so far.

In the 12 months to March 2011, at 100 intersections across the LGA we counted an average increase of 60 per cent in the number of cyclists at the morning peak hour and 48 per cent in the evenings. This is phenomenal—New York reported a 14 per cent increase over the last year.

Cycling has now risen to approximately two per cent of all trips into the city, but it is growing at around 50 per cent per annum.

Our greatest challenge is not the cycling infrastructure, but the cultural change needed to embed cycling as a healthy and legitimate form of transport. Our streets don't belong to any one group, not to cyclists, motorists, pedestrians but to us all and our street share program aims to encourage respect for all groups.

We sponsor events to promote cycling, including the upcoming Sydney Rides Festival on 9-16 October. This week of events includes the Spring Cycle, Sydney Bicycle Film Festival, Ride to Work Day, street fairs, social rides, film and a Bikes Rock concert.

In June, Council endorsed a new Liveable Green Network strategy for safe and attractive walking routes, linking the City's streets, parks, open spaces, villages, main streets and the City Centre.

We are introducing shared zones in places like Barrack Street and some streets in Chinatown—where work to reinvigorate this unique and world-class cultural precinct began in July. The first stage of this renewal will transform Kimber Lane, Factory Street and Little Hay Street into attractive spaces with opportunities for events, markets, outdoor dining, more trees and plantings.

Our fifth strategic direction is for a lively and engaging city centre.

The centrepiece is the transformation of George Street into an inviting boulevard, and while we work to bring that to fruition, we are pursuing diverse programs that keep our city interesting and inviting.

I hope you trialled our deck chairs in Barrack Street Wynyard and next to the Town Hall earlier this year. The free wi-fi, candy striped deck chairs and tables were so popular we plan to return them this summer.

Events such as the annual Art & About promote our network of hidden laneways through commissioned art works, and we are working to attract small, quirky businesses to the adjoining lanes. In 2010 a collection of works drew over 100,000 people to the city's lanes over a four month period.

Persistence in our campaign for small bars paid off and we now have more than 40 spread across our local government area. The emerging small bar scene has attracted media coverage in London and New York, with the articles lauding the scene's exciting contribution to Sydney night life.

Through our late night economy "OPEN" project, we are working to attract a wider range of people to the city centre at night. We're talking to business, residents and government about the type of night-time city they want. Alongside traditional forums, we've done "vox pops" to gather ideas from people visiting the city at night, and we ran an interactive online forum that attracted over 6000 visitors and 679 ideas.

A 2004 report estimated that the late night economy in New York was worth $10 billion a year while recent research shows the night time economy is worth around £66 billion in the UK —strong reasons for government to invest in Sydney's night economy, especially public transport.

People have told us that they need good transport across the night, greater diversity, including later trading, good quality late dining options and less red tape. They want a city that is safe and welcoming.

A Discussion Paper on the future of Sydney at night will be ready by November and we are preparing a range of 'quick start" programs in time for summer this year.

These include workshops to cut red tape by explaining the development application process and how to run pop-up events; enabling "food trucks" on Sydney streets; and running more innovative programs late at night in City libraries. (I hope you caught our erotic fan fiction readings at late night Surry Hills library.)

We will redeploy Precinct Ambassadors on George Street and reintroduce portable urinals in late night precincts, following a successful trial earlier this year when they were used by around 5,500 people. (That's more than 1600 litres of urine—enough to fill 33 beer kegs or 10 bathtubs—clearly we need a long-term solution!)

Our sixth strategic direction is sustainable development, renewal and design.

Our draft Local Environment Plan has been developed through detailed study of every lot for appropriate height, density and public domain—with new sustainability and design excellence principles.

While concentrated residential development will help reduce our ecological footprint—it is tremendously challenging. By increasing densities in a considered and responsible way, we work to bring our communities along with us as we help reduce the urban sprawl that drives growth in vehicle use and destroys the prime agricultural land that supplies much of Sydney's food.

During public consultation on the City Plan, more than 25 meetings were held with local groups and industry stakeholders, and City planners responded to hundreds of phone enquiries. Our staff are now reviewing submissions and the revised Plan will go back to Council later this year.

Our underlying approach is to protect the character of existing residential and heritage areas (our city villages), and focus balanced and responsible levels of development in renewal areas such as Green Square, Barangaroo, CUB and Harold Park.

The new planning controls for Harold Park, adopted this year following extensive consultation and research, provide for development while unlocking more than a third of the site as public open space.

Over the past 12 months, City projects won more than 40 industry awards nationally and internationally, demonstrating our commitment to high standards in architecture and urban design. These were across all fields, including design excellence, sustainability and environmental initiatives, heritage conservation, as well as product and building awards.

The community has embraced these award-winning parks and facilities: including the Surry Hills Library and Community Centre; Pirrama Park at Pyrmont; Paddington Reservoir Gardens; Redfern Park and Sydney Park as well as Glebe Foreshore (Bellevue).

This year, we completed our work at Rushcutters Bay Park to provide increased open space, improved landscaping, a restored heritage grandstand and oval, five modern tennis courts, an architect-designed harbour-front café, and filtration of stormwater runoff before it enters the harbour.

At Prince Alfred Park, the new landscaping and sporting areas are attracting huge numbers of tennis and basketball players, cyclists, dog walkers and people using the picnic facilities. The work includes a huge 290,000 litre water tank to capture and clean stormwater runoff to irrigate the park.

We expect to open the new pool in February, with its stunning design that folds the landscape over the building. It will be our first facility to be powered by trigeneration.

We've renewed numerous smaller parks across the City, most recently with this month's opening of Walla Mulla and Bourke Street Parks in Woolloomooloo. Work has also included parks and playgrounds in Redfern, Darlington, Erskineville, Glebe, Paddington and Newtown.

We support community gardens, with the new Ultimo Community Garden in Wattle Lane Park our 16th—others are located in Alexandria, Newtown, Waterloo, Glebe, Pyrmont, Annandale, Redfern and Woolloomooloo.

Our draft Greening Sydney Master Plan, endorsed last week for public exhibition, sets goals to increase our green canopy by 50 percent by 2030.

We planted 462 street trees during the year, for a total of 7000 in the past five years.

An updated Street Tree Master Plan is now on exhibition. We have surveyed our existing 30,000 street trees and are looking for new planting opportunities. We propose 13 new tree species that are hardy enough for our tough urban conditions, including 10 natives.

In March, the public overwhelmingly endorsed our proposed City Farm, where Sydneysiders can learn about food production and sustainable living. We are now working toward establishing a farm at Sydney Park, with an educational component next to the CBD, in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum.

Our seventh direction aims to ensure that Sydney has sufficient housing for a diverse population.

Our research for 2030 identified the need to maintain our public social housing, with some 8000 additional affordable homes needed for key workers. Low income workers are vital for the services they provide, and for the social and economic vitality of the City.

We sold part of the former South Sydney Hospital site at Zetland to a community housing provider for 100 new affordable housing units, and we continue to review our property portfolio for other possible sites.

A further 102 affordable rental units have been developed in the Green Square precinct under the Green Square Affordable Housing Scheme, which will ultimately provide 330 affordable rental units.

Through development negotiations, the City also secured 1000 square meters of land at Harold Park that will provide a further 50 affordable units.

New planning controls have been endorsed by Council for Housing NSW's Glebe Affordable Housing Project, providing for an increase in 20 social housing dwellings and 90 affordable housing dwellings.

In a significant step to address inner city homelessness, a new State and Federal Government initiative 'Platform 70' provides seventy rough sleepers in Woolloomooloo a chance to move into homes of their own in the Camperdown Project.

This is important progress for Woolloomooloo, where the City's twice yearly homeless street count found 90 rough sleepers in February.

The City's Homeless Person's Information Centre received 43,720 calls from people in crisis, helping more than 31,000 people or family groups find accommodation on the same day they asked for help.

We fund the Way2Home service, which helped 48 rough sleepers across Sydney get long-term supportive housing.

Some 1600 people in crisis were helped by the YWCA's Homeless Brokerage Program, jointly funded by the City and the State. This prevented 248 people or family groups from falling into homelessness.

Our eighth direction supports strong local communities and economies.

In central Sydney, we have an important sustainability advantage, with existing high density living and historic village centres that are walkable, diverse and thriving. These local villages have their own distinctive character and support a mix of local jobs and services.

In 2006 and 2007, we did extensive local consultation to develop a series of local action plans. Hundreds of projects identified in those plans have now been completed.

Over the coming year we will go back to our communities to further develop our village planning. To receive broad input, we plan to use both traditional forums and the on-line strategies that were extremely successful for our late night economy "OPEN" project.

We would like to see a network of distinct but overlapping local centres where most of the facilities, services and open space that residents need for daily living are within walking or riding distance, with convenient public transport for longer trips. We want to build strong local communities where neighbours have opportunities to know each other and where local businesses thrive.

We've improved our village centres through major streetscape upgrades, most recently in Harris Street Pyrmont. In King Street Newtown, we are installing Smart Poles in response to the Newtown Business Precinct Association.

Together with our lively banners and vivid Living Colour floral displays, these improvements help the local economy.

We particularly want to help start-up businesses in the creative and cultural sector by promoting opportunities for arts in affordable spaces in places like Redfern and Oxford Street.

Council last week endorsed plans to re-activate Oxford Street, especially during the day time, by bringing in artists, retailers and café's to Council-owned properties. By developing a cluster of imaginative small businesses and arts studios, we aim to bring the Oxford Street Cultural Quarter to life.

The restored Burton Street Tabernacle nearby is being converted into a 203 seat community theatre operated by the Darlinghurst Theatre Company, with a café and exhibition space as a meeting place.

We've revised our business support program, renamed the Village Partnership Program, to help business groups representing local village economies. The first grant was approved last week for the South Sydney Chamber of Commerce, covering Redfern to Green Square.

Other initiatives include the Business Precincts Team in our Economic Development Unit, the City of Sydney Business Awards, Let's Talk Business seminars and our participation in Small Business Month.

Last year Council bought the historic Tote building in Zetland and opened a library link and one stop shop. We've quarantined funds for Green Square community and recreation facilities as the population grows, and we're proceeding with new multi-purpose sports field and centre at Perry Park in Alexandria.

Glebe Town Hall is undergoing a $6.8 million restoration to transform the building into a modern community venue, while preserving its significant heritage features and incorporating new sustainability measures. Restoration and repair work is also underway at Paddington Town Hall

In January, in partnerships with Children's Services Community Management, we opened the Chippendale Childcare Centre at Pine Street, as our first work-based child-care centre. It also provides long-day care for the local community, catering for a total of 36 children.

And our libraries serve a growing number of users - 1.3 million items were borrowed in the last year - while also acting as community hubs. Our dedicated community centres continue to offer a range of services, for young and older people, catering for almost half a million visitors in the past year.

The new Waterloo Oval Youth Facility, which is nearly complete, has innovative design and an accessible green roof. It will deliver a wide range of services to often troubled youth. Its adjacent to a fantastic and well used skate park.

Our ninth strategic direction is for a cultural and creative city— to build and sustain a uniquely Sydney spirit of creativity, ensuring affordable places for artists, using streets, laneways and public spaces.

Council this year adopted a detailed blueprint, "City Art", to provide an overall art and cultural interpretation in the City. Our new City Art website profiles some 200 artworks, with map functions allowing people to explore public art in Sydney.

Temporary art projects at Taylor Square continued this year with Camp Stonewall, commemorating the 40th anniversary Australia's gay and lesbian movement. And a new artwork, a stylish lamp, in Mary's Place commemorates the survival of a brave lesbian who was viciously assaulted in 1996.

Last July, we launched our first artists' studios in a former Depot in Riley Street, Woolloomooloo, managed by Firstdraft Inc. It provides eight affordable studios, a project space/workshop room/gallery and access to two independent printing presses.

This year, through our annual public art festival, Art & About, the City is partnering with Kaldor Public Art Projects to co-present Michael Landy: Acts of Kindness. Michael Landy is one of Britain's best-known artists, having created some of the most significant public art projects of the past decade.

2030 recognises that Sydney's major cultural institutions follow in a "Cultural Ribbon" from the Australian Museum through to Walsh Bay, and on to the Powerhouse Museum. This ribbon will benefit from new light rail, together with pedestrian and cycling links—so that the area evolves as an integral part of the City, and not an isolated enclave like Darling Harbour, one of Sydney's great, lost opportunities.

Importantly, 2030 proposes formal recognition of Aboriginal people through the Eora Journey, a pathway from the Harbour to Redfern, that will acknowledged and honour the traditional custodians.

City of Sydney historians have worked with our Aboriginal Islander Advisory Panel for two years doing ground-breaking mapping of 255 significant places connected to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history. In July, we launched an 84-page free booklet based on the work — "Barani / Barrabugu (Yesterday/Tomorrow) - Sydney's Aboriginal Journey". The booklet features stories and maps of more than 60 significant Aboriginal sites across the City.

The City-sponsored Dictionary of Sydney website is now approaching a million words. It covers metropolitan Sydney, telling our historical and community stories through words, pictures, maps, films and timelines.

We have an extensive Grants and Sponsorship program, providing over $8 million of cash value in kind each year to community, cultural and local organisations. In 2010/2011 over 380 organisations received support from the City across a variety of grant programs.

Over 60 organisations received offices, rehearsal, performance and studio space, and our major festivals program sustains the Sydney Festival, Film Festival, Writers Festival and Yabun. We now support the Sydney Fringe festival, with increased funding to expand east into the Oxford Street precinct.

Our final direction is implementation through effective governance and par[limit]