When I presented at the International Urban Design Conference last year, it seems a lecture by an unknown urban water guy wasn’t exactly considered a “must see” session amongst the throng of planners and designer types.
Still, it appears that there has been enough interest in the slide pack that I have been asked for a chaser on where we are up to with liveability and urban water. I want to use the same “liveability game changers” from my presentation. So for this first post (one more to come) I’ll stick to “a clean river is a fun river” in this unashamedly Sydney focussed post.
Iconic waterways have always been essential to the Sydney-ness of Sydney. But as the city progresses west, small waterways previously ignored and hidden within a tangle of light urbanism, are becoming important landscape features. They can provide open space to break up density and allow recreation zones, contributing to the wellbeing of communities whilst reducing reliance on accessing Sydney’s beaches.
For the first time, waterways and city welfare are being recognised in city planning in Sydney. Each of the six Draft District Plans released by the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) in December 2016 have sustainability targets that include waterway improvement.
Our Living River is an impressive collaboration of local and state government who have set the goal to bring swimming back to the Parramatta River. Their 2025 Masterplan work includes water quality, urban ecology, community survey, risk and economic assessments to detail a nuanced view of what “swimming in the river” means. From splash sites to offline pools to open swimming, all the options are being considered in some leading design work. This project is one to watch and is already influencing town planning policy for this region.
In the West, South Creek has emerged as “a key organising design element” for the GSC’s western city. Sydney has experience organising development around estuaries (like the harbour) but we haven’t done so well with small streams in suburbia that don’t have waterviews. It will be a true challenge to bring the South Creek vision to life. An exciting time for urban designers and water professionals alike.
Stay tuned for more next post exploring “all the water we need is already in the city” and “healthy communities are connected to their water”.
Article supplied by Phillip Birtles, Urban Water and Waterways Manager at Sydney Water