Greener public spaces

Increase the proportion of homes in urban areas within 10 minutes’ walk of quality green, open and public space by 10% by 2023.

Young girl in a playground

Why is this important?

Quality green, open and public spaces are important to everyone. They are our free and publicly accessible parks, gardens and sports fields, walkable shady streets and plazas, and the libraries, museums and galleries at the heart of our communities.  

Our public spaces make our local neighbourhoods more welcoming and accessible. They delight and connect people. They support our health and well-being, environmental resilience and thriving local economies. They're at the heart of everyday life.

We know that people who have access to green and public places are healthier and happier. We also know that for many people living in urban areas without a lush backyard, our parks and green spaces are vital to maintaining both physical and mental health. 

The NSW Government is committed to delivering a network of welcoming and inclusive public spaces to create connected communities where people love to live. 

How are we tracking?

Creating great public spaces takes a local, place-based approach. We are working with local governments and communities across NSW to increase access to quality public space. 

Our target is to have 230,000 more homes in urban areas within 10 minutes’ walk of a new or improved quality green, open, and public space by 30 June 2023. As at June 2021, our projects have resulted in an additional 131,150 homes having access to great public spaces.

Download the Greener public spaces data information sheet (PDF 238.67KB)

What are we doing? 

To achieve the target for this priority, we are delivering a range of projects across NSW, including through the Public Spaces Legacy Program, and co-funding with councils inclusive play spaces through the Everyone Can Play grant program. The Alfresco Restart Package launch is also bringing NSW back to life post-lockdown, revitalising streets with outdoor dining, the arts and live entertainment to support economic recovery and create spaces for family and friends to reconnect. Explore this map to see some of the ways we are investing in public space across NSW.

NSW Public Spaces Legacy Program

In August 2020 we announced the launch of a $250 million NSW Public Spaces Legacy Program as part of ongoing work to protect the health of the community, provide economic and jobs stimulus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and deliver a legacy of safe, quality public and open space. The program incentivises local councils to accelerate their assessments of development applications (DAs) and rezoning to create new development capacity and meet demand for housing and employment over the next decade.

Over 100 projects in 60 Local Government Areas have been approved as part of the NSW Government’s $250 million Public Spaces Legacy Program. Projects include a diverse range of public open spaces including new and improved walking and cycle paths, parks, trails and boardwalks, lookouts, foreshore and riverfronts, play spaces, civic plazas, outdoor event and performance spaces.

Parks for People

Our Parks for People program is putting communities at the heart of a $150 million program to create a network of connected parks and open space across Greater Sydney. We're investing the money to create new open spaces and improve existing parks that will be designed for and by the local communities they serve

Everyone Can Play

We are making play spaces in NSW more inclusive. Through the Everyone Can Play (ECP) Guideline and grant program we are helping designers and councils deliver play spaces that are designed to be more inclusive of everyone in the community. So far more than 37 new or improved inclusive play spaces have been delivered across NSW from the previous rounds of grant funding with 71 more currently under development.

Streets as Shared Spaces fund for councils

In May 2020 we launched the Streets as Shared Spaces program in collaboration with Transport for NSW, to support the community during and beyond COVID-19 by creating more safe and attractive streets.  The program offered a $15 million competitive grant fund for temporary interventions, to support people to physically distance, and support essential workers and local businesses. 51 temporary projects are being delivered across the state. Projects include testing new paths, connections and cycleways, re-imagining lanes and carparks as public space, calming traffic and creating semi-permanent art including murals and lighting. View the list of successful projects.

The Your High Street program was launched in November 2020 to support councils across NSW to make permanent improvements to the amenity and functionality of their high streets. The program recognises the importance of streets as public spaces in strategic centres to support community and economic recovery. Grants of up to $1 million were available for councils to deliver improvements to a high street in their area. Learn more about the 18 successful Your High Street projects to be delivered by May 2022.

Read our Streets and Shared Spaces – ideas and opportunities (PDF 2.5MB) to find out what contributes to a great street.  

Phillip Lane, Parramatta - Streets as Shared Spaces project

With $100,000 support from Streets as Shared Spaces, City of Parramatta Council transformed a disused service lane into an attractive outdoor dining experience over summer. Despite poor weather, Phillip Lane saw over 2,500 visitors during the trial and the activation contributed to 30% boost in sales for some businesses, allowing them to hire additional staff. 

Before and after photos showing the transformation of Parramatta Lane from bins and boxes on the street to people eating and drinking at tables.

Before and after

Photo credit: City of Parramatta Council

Places to love – Partnerships with councils

As a part of The Festival of Place, we are working with 6 councils to deliver a variety of public space demonstration projects through our Places to Love program. These projects focus on improving walkable access and the quality of open spaces, public facilities and streets.  

The 6 councils, which are from across the 3 cities of Sydney, as well as regional NSW, are:

  • Blacktown City Council
  • Burwood Council
  • City of Sydney
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Penrith City Council
  • Wagga Wagga City Council.

The aim is to demonstrate the vision for an area and build an evidence base for longer-term change. We hope to have a rolling program of demonstration projects with other councils in the future. Learn about temporary intervention projects that create great streets and more space for people, including our partnership with Wagga Wagga City Council. 

Reimagining Wagga Wagga’s city centre

The drought, bushfires and COVID-19 have created many challenges for regional NSW. This project provided an opportunity to help the city centre of Wagga Wagga bounce back. From December 2020 to June 2021, the project transformed Baylis and Fitzmaurice Streets in the city centre into places for the community with art, lighting, temporary furniture, mini-dining pop ups, creative laneway treatments and music. The project culminated in a launch at the 2021 Lost Lanes Festival in June, supporting night-time economic activity, connecting the community with local businesses and fostering community pride.

People walking down streets in Wagga Wagga with community art on the walls and floor

Photo credit: Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Metropolitan Greenspace Program

The Metropolitan Greenspace Program commits grant funding to local councils in Greater Sydney and the Central Coast for projects that improve and increase access to regionally significant open space. The program aligns with the NSW Government’s Greater Sydney Region Plan A Metropolis of Three Cities, and the Green Grid strategy, helping to create a network of high-quality green space that connects town centres, public transport hubs, and major residential areas. The Metropolitan Greenspace Program is the longest running open space grants program, having started in 1983. Since 1990 over $45 million has been provided to more than 635 projects. View more information about the allocation of $4 million of funding for 13 projects from 12 Councils under the Metropolitan Greenspace Program 2020-21 grants round.

NSW Public Spaces Charter and Evaluation Tool for Public Space and Public Life

We have released a draft NSW Public Spaces Charter – our commitment to quality public spaces for NSW. The charter has been developed to support the planning, design, management and activation of public spaces in NSW. It identifies 10 principles for quality public space, developed through evidence-based research and discussions with a diverse range of public space experts and we want your input on these.   

We have also released the Great Public Spaces Toolkit that includes the Evaluation Tool for Public Space and Public Life together with a Great Public Spaces Guide. The evaluation tool is a free resource, developed to support local and state government, industry and the community. It aims to help these stakeholders assess the quality of public space, identify areas where a place is doing well and areas for improvement. The Great Public Spaces Guide is an introduction to understanding the meaning of place and the elements that contribute to create a great public facility, open space, or street. 

You can find a local public space in your area using the ePlanning Spatial Viewer. The public spaces layer shows the location of known open spaces and public facilities across NSW. 

Greener Public Spaces
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You can find a local public space in your area using the ePlanning Spatial Viewer. The public spaces layer shows the location of known open spaces and public facilities across NSW. 

What can you do?  

If you would like to learn more about the Great Public Spaces program, contact the project team via email: 

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