Bondi Junction to Spark a Sustainable Future for Sydney

September 12th, 2014

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The community of Bondi Junction in Sydney can help shape a sustainable future for not only the precinct, but also for the rest of the city, said the Mayor of Waverley Council, Sally Betts, on The Fifth Estate.

At a presentation in the East Leagues Club, Betts said that her community is devising ambitious plans to sustainably reinvent the precinct, which could also be implemented in other precincts of Sydney. The Bondi Junction 2030 strategy sets out four primary goals to become a sustainable precinct.

1. Reduce emissions

The aim of the strategy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 using low-carbon technology, in contrast to the federal government’s planned 5% reduction rate.

2. Development projects to cater for public needs

According to Michael Dieden, a US placemaker, development projects should take into account:

  • How people like to congregate and chat (e.g. in pubs or coffee shops).
  • The needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport travellers.
  • What’s required in the neighbourhood (e.g. higher education).

3. Create higher density and reduce car usage

Density is closely linked to transport, so Dieden said that “the car needs to be phased out of urban areas if we are going to survive”. Good urban design means people can find everything they need in a place without having to drive. Ed Blakely, from the Future Cities Collaborative, added that creating more density can help create community, pointing out that it’s not about how big the buildings are, but how great the place is.

Rod Simpson, from the University of Sydney, said that “congestion is our friend” and what matters is the density of people and not cars. A good precinct gives people an interesting experience, and urbanity in living (e.g. walking and cycling) can be created by overlaying on existing car-based geography and densifying smaller areas. This could be realised in other precincts within the next 10 years.

Furthermore, according to the Metropolitan Growth Strategy, by 2036 the number of people living in the city of Sydney will increase by 12%, and there will also be 30% more jobs. The aim is to accommodate these in a sustainable way, said Betts. The city’s low density means focusing on sustainable modes of transport like walking and cycling, and new urban growth should be focused around train stations and bus/tram routes.

4. Create a socially sustainable community

Precinct developments should incorporate all of life’s necessities in a village-type atmosphere to create a socially sustainable community, said Dieden. Development projects also need to consider what kind of housing and street can encourage people to interact, walk and talk, instead of designing for the benefit of cars and drivers.

For example, a development project could include:

  • Courtyards or town squares with bars, cafés and fountains.
  • Units and shops that face open to the street.
  • Parking near the bus/train station.
  • Transit hub with a good design and connection so there’s more commuter interaction with the streets.
  • Charter schools for higher education.
  • Putting in theatres, housing sites, and other pedestrian amenities near a Westfield shopping centre so that commuters can walk past the shops.
  • Music performances at a shopping centre or on the streets.

Other plans

Other plans include:

  • An underground waste collection system to get rid of garbage trucks on the streets.
  • A more holistic traffic plan.
  • An urban design review.
  • Distributed energy and water.
  • Light rail that connects to the beach and city, along with plans for reducing congestion.

All of the above can be done by partnering with other councils, institutions, businesses and governments, as well as the community, said Betts. The plans will not only help Bondi Junction become a great precinct, but it will also make Sydney a socially sustainable and liveable high-density city.