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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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The NSW Government has launched an Evaluation Tool for Public Space and Public Life and a Great Public Spaces Guide - two new free resources that will help improve public spaces for every community across NSW.


The four-page Evaluation Tool allows anyone to evaluate the quality of their public space and document changes over time. It will help government, councils, industry and communities identify opportunities to deliver better and activated public space.


The Great Public Spaces Guide introduces everyone to the meaning of place and the elements that create a great public facility, open space or street.


Alex O’Mara, Group Deputy Secretary at the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, said the Evaluation Tool and Guide further the NSW Government’s commitment to meet the Premier’s Priority to increase the proportion of homes in urban areas within 10 minutes’ walk of quality green, open and public space by 10% by 2023.


“Local communities know exactly what they want and need from public spaces such as parks, libraries, sporting fields and streetscapes. The Evaluation Tool gives everyone a way to identify and document those desires and have a shared conversation on potential improvements,” Ms O’Mara said.


“The Great Public Spaces Guide will provide people with greater insight and inspiration on what can be achieved in their public spaces. A better understanding of public space will lead to healthier, happier public spaces that are full of life.” Ms O’Mara said.


The Evaluation Tool is available in digital and printed form in English, Arabic, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese versions. It allows assessment of public space by four themes:

  • Am I able to get there?
  • Am I able to play and participate?
  • Am I able to stay?
  • Am I able to connect?

“These two new resources will support the development of high-quality public spaces throughout NSW and they can be used by anyone who wants to better understand their public spaces, no matter your technical expertise or background,” Ms O’Mara said.


The Evaluation Tool was developed and tested in consultation with six councils in 2019-20 and subject to peer review by world leaders in public space - Gehl, PlacemakingX and Project for Public Spaces - before consultation with key stakeholders, including relevant government agencies. Public exhibition and community feedback in October-November 2020 included presentations to university students.


The Evaluation Tool for Public Space and Public Life and the Great Public Spaces Guide are components of the year-long Festival of Place.


The Great Public Spaces Guide and Evaluation Tool are available on the Great Public Spaces toolkit web page.