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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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The final 50-Year Vision for Greater Sydney's Open Space and Parklands (PDF 3.2MB) imagines the future of Greater Sydney’s numerous and diverse outdoor spaces and parklands. 

 

The NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces announced the final 50-Year Vision for Greater Sydney's Open and Parklands on 24 May 2021 after consultation with the community. 

 

50-Year-Vision-Open-Space-and-Parklands 

 

Greater Sydney’s abundance of parklands is a legacy of good decision making over many years and we are building on that legacy, creating a city in a park.

 

Parklands are critical to the health, wellbeing and liveability of our communities, providing areas for recreation, visual amenity and access to nature, as well as supporting green jobs and local economies. They are vital for the conservation of our natural environment and habitat for wildlife in the city.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of the need to access and enjoy public space near home more than ever. It’s the right time to consider our aspirations for public spaces and parklands for the years to come. 

 

Our 50-Year Vision for Greater Sydney's Open Space and Parklands imagines greener streets, higher quality parklands and more green connections that support healthy people and communities. 

 

Thank you to everyone who shared their ideas on the draft vision as part of the public consultation activities in August/September 2020. Your feedback was carefully considered in refining the 50-Year Vision for Greater Sydney's Open Space and Parklands. Read the 50-Year Vision for Greater Sydney's Open Space and Parklands - Outcome report (PDF 4.5MB) to find out more.

 

Have your say

The government is now consulting on legislative reforms that will support Greater Sydney Parklands in advocating for the vision, securing new parks for the people and taking a focused and unified approach in the care and management of these parks in partnership with communities, First Nations people, local government, and other government agencies. 

 

The White Paper - Parklands for People (PDF 3.6MB) has been prepared and is open for public comment until 12 July 2021

 

Have your say on the White Paper - Parklands for People

During the exhibition period the department will be holding a series of online forums to hear your thoughts on the white paper. While the date for these sessions is yet to be confirmed, you can register your interest and we will keep you up to date. 

In 2020 the Minster for Planning and Public Spaces released a draft 50-Year Vision for Sydney's Open Space and Parklands for public consultation.

The vision has now been finalised, giving greater recognition to the importance of parks from an ecological, social, cultural and economic context, and to the diverse types of parklands that bring the city to life. The vision will achieve a city in a park and create: 

  • a living and breathing city with a protected, celebrated and embraced natural environment
  • a city of community-focused parks and open spaces that are connected through the Greater Sydney Green and Blue Grid 
  • a place that reflects the value and stories of the past, nurtures the present and sets the stage for stories yet to be told, including rich First Nations culture
  • a city within its landscape, where open spaces and parklands are accessible, meaningful, sustainable and part of everyday life 
  • as much a parkland city as it is a harbour city and river city, where people can easily access diverse types of high-quality parklands 
  • a place where people are custodians and wholeheartedly embrace and care for open space and parklands. 

The 50-Year Vision sets 4 strategic directions: 

  1. Growing parks for people 
  2. Connecting people to parks 
  3. Keeping Sydney green and vibrant 
  4. Caring for the environment 

Greater Sydney Parklands has been established to work with councils and other park managers to create a grid of green spaces across the city. This will build on the existing network of Sydney’s oldest and best loved parklands – Centennial Parklands including Moore and Queens Parks, Western Sydney Parklands, Parramatta Park, Callan Park and Sydney’s newest park Fernhill Estate. 

Coordinating this is a big job. Greater Sydney Parklands will do more than just look after these parks; in line with the 50-Year Vision, the organisation will take a city-wide view to: 

  • work with state agencies and councils to champion a green network of parks throughout Sydney 
  • understand in its own parks what goes where, so that different uses can be balanced out across the entire city 
  • advocate strongly for parks across Sydney. 

At the heart of the white paper is a multi-trust model comprising of place-specific trusts that understand local issues and will protect local values. This is supported by an overarching Greater Sydney Parklands Trust that provides a framework for a city-wide integrated approach to planning, taking care of Greater Sydney’s parklands.

Key approaches in the white paper include:

  • creating new and amending legislation, as required, to establish an overarching Greater Sydney Parklands Trust that manages regionally significant parklands across the city and can manage new parks 
  • maintaining the existing parkland trusts and local stewardship roles 
  • integrating contemporary and holistic strategic planning for Sydney’s network of parks within broader metropolitan planning processes 
  • legislating a commitment to best practice community involvement in park planning, management and activation 
  • building relationships and partnerships with First Nations peoples in the stewardship of parks 
  • establishing community trustee boards to represent community voices and advise the new Greater Sydney Parklands Trust 
  • introducing a sustainable financial operating model that allows appropriate commercial activities, and to ensure parklands can be managed properly in perpetuity

The Greater Sydney Parklands Trust (GSPT) will provide operational services to existing park trusts and new parks. This GSPT will have similar functions and powers to the exiting park trusts in relation to governance, planning and operations for parks. This will allow the GSPT to assume care and management responsibilities as new parks are added to the estate. 

This includes responsibilities to: 

  • conserve, restore and enhance the natural environment of the parks 
  • conserve, restore and enhance First Nations’ heritage, European heritage, archaeological and scenic qualities. 

The care and management responsibilities for Western Sydney Parklands, Fernhill Estate, Centennial Parklands, Callan Park and Parramatta Park remain with their respective trusts. These will continue to operate under their respective legislation, with minor legislative amendments recognising the GSPT functions for financial management responsibilities, public consultation and engagement and leadership for other trusts.

It is proposed that all trusts are governed by a board, providing ultimate decision-making powers under the direction of the minister. 

In addition, the white paper proposes establishing community trustee boards for each park to create a consistent and formal role for the community to provide advice to their relevant trust and represent the local views. 

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

The GSPT will be governed by a board that acts on behalf of the trust and makes all decisions in relation to the trust’s functions. Members of the board – up to 8 members, including the Chief Executive of Greater Sydney Parklands – will be appointed by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces. 

It is proposed that:

  • the board should have members with technical skills and experience in environmental and parks management, conservation, financial management, property or heritage. Membership will be diverse in composition in terms of gender and representation of First Nations people
  • Greater Sydney Parklands board members also serve as trustees to the current park trusts, to ensure consistent governance. Board members will make decisions in accordance with the relevant trust’s legislation and with advice of the relevant community trustee boards.

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

With the establishment of Greater Sydney Parklands, the operations and management of the 5 parklands can now be streamlined through one agency. This creates efficiencies that translates to more funding for parks and a high standard of parks management across the parks estate. 

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

The approach taken is to maintain existing parkland trusts and their legislation so that the current legislative framework to manage heritage is maintained. Trusts will continue to prepare plans of management for each parkland that identifies ways to sensitively manage heritage.

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

To achieve the community’s aspiration for quality parks and the ambition to reimagine Sydney’s parklands, we need to review current legislation. Developed over many decades, the current legislation does not reflect contemporary community needs or park management practices. With different trusts managing individual parks, we’re missing an opportunity to acknowledge the regionally significant parks as part of a broader metropolitan open space network.

Legislative reform provides the opportunity to establish an enduring framework that can support the management of parks in the context of a growing and changing city.

The preferred option is to have one umbrella trust with new legislation, and to maintain existing trusts and their respective Acts. This option recognises the importance of place-specific trusts that understand local issues and can lead a place-sensitive approach. It also gives the GSPT a framework to support a city-wide, integrated approach to planning and taking care of Sydney’s parklands.

The existing situation does not support expansion or growth of the parks estate.  The new umbrella trust can take on the ownership and management of new parks right across Greater Sydney. Under the individual trust model Greater Sydney would not have a city-wide agency to advocate for and promote the green grid beyond individual park boundaries. Nor would efficiencies be achieved to release more funds for park restoration and management.

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

We recognise that this is an issue of concern to some in the community. Appropriate commercial activity is already part of the management of Western Sydney Parklands, Parramatta Park and Centennial Parklands and this will continue. Generally, commercial activity is only considered when it adds to the amenity and activation of parklands or has no undue impacts on recreation, heritage protections or sensitive environments.

The white paper proposal restricts any major new commercial activities to the existing commercial precincts in existing parks as set out in current plans of management.

With increasing costs, demand and expectations, a strong estate requires a sustainable funding base, including government grants and self generated revenues. We need a financial operating model that enables the GSPT to generate the funding for new parks. Diverse funding streams that sustain long-term requirements to operate and manage quality parks across a growing parks estate are also needed. 

The proposed principles guiding any potential commercial activities must: 

  • align with or contribute to public use, enjoyment and the amenity of the park. 
  • not restrict public access to significant parts of the park at all times of the day. 
  • support consistent revenue streams to contribute to park management. 
  • be consistent with the relevant plan of management. 

Rather than a single commercial funding model, the GSPT will consider the suitability of commercial arrangements for each park  to suit that particular park.

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

The existing parks are funded by self generated revenue where it is appropriate and by government grants. It is proposed that the trust should have financial autonomy and independence but still be eligible for government grants. 

Currently, each park uses a different funding and operating model and some parks have limited opportunities to raise funds.

The trust will investigate new ways to fund parks that do not impact on recreational, heritage or environmental values.

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

The legislation will continue to prohibit the sale of public parklands. Any long term leases for commercial purposes will continue to be restricted to existing commercial precincts in existing parks as set out in the current plans of management. 

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

Greater Sydney Parklands needs to build enduring relationships with First Nations people and communities so that they share in decision-making. The parks estate is rich in stories and significance. Relationships with local custodians will embed their knowledge in the management of parks. We will also include the following First Nations community engagement principles in the Greater Sydney Parklands Consultation and Engagement Framework:

  • Engagement with First Nations communities will be early, inclusive and ongoing to provide genuine opportunities to participate in decision-making on matters that affect Country, through representatives chosen by the communities in accordance with their own processes
  • The trust will negotiate respectfully, fairly and in good faith with First Nations people and create opportunities for communities to be involved in planning, management and interpretation
  • The trust will negotiate First Nations community access to, and sustainable use of, the parks estate for cultural, social and economic purposes, recognising the importance of connecting to Country to First Nations peoples’ health and wellbeing. 

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

Communicating and working with partners, visitors and communities will make the Parklands Estate easier to access, enjoyable to visit and valued by all.

The trust will be required by legislation to establish community trustee boards for each park, to create a consistent and formal role for the community to provide advice to their relevant trust on local issues and local needs and represent the community.

The trust will be required by legislation to develop a Greater Sydney Parklands consultation, engagement and advocacy framework to guide its approach to communications and engagement and advocacy for the long-term vision for parks in Sydney. 

This framework will set out how Greater Sydney Parklands will consult on the needs of a diverse range of park users and stakeholders. 

It will better focus engagement with First Nations organisations and communities, recognise their relationship with Country and ensure they have an active role in the management of Greater Sydney Parklands. 

The Greater Sydney Parklands consultation, engagement and advocacy framework will be endorsed by the minister and reviewed at least every 5 years. The framework will: 

  • confirm the GSPT commitment to communicating and working with communities 
  • support strong and enduring relationships with First Nations people to care for parks 
  • identify opportunities and processes for community input 
  • establish clear expectations about community consultation 
  • outline best-practice approaches to engaging with communities 
  • aim to capture a diversity of voices 
  • detail the establishment, constitution and operations of community trustee boards. 

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

The importance of parklands to local communities is acknowledged in the white paper. Local stewardship will be supported through the establishment of community trustee boards for each park, to create a consistent and formal role for the community to provide advice to their relevant trust on local issues and local needs and represent the community.

It is not expected that community trustee boards will control funds, capital allocations or operational matters. 

All community trustee boards would have a common constitution setting out the terms of reference, including composition, terms of office, roles and responsibilities, vacancies, procedures, and minutes and frequency of meetings.

Community trustee boards will need to reflect the varied communities and groups they serve, with members selected through a public expression of interest process run by the GSPT. 

Successful appointees will have a demonstrated interest in, and sound knowledge of, parks and activities. It’s important that they also have the ability to communicate effectively with residents, community groups and park visitors. Ideally, members will have a diversity of experience and be a mix of people in terms of gender, age and cultural background.

The community trustee boards will: 

  • advise on the sustainable management of the park, including revenue generation
  • advise and assist the GSPT, in the development and review of its plans and policies, including park plans of management and consultation, engagement and advocacy frameworks
  • advise the GSPT on possible new or modified services and facilities
  • provide advise to the board on local park-user needs and issues, including environmental and heritage issues
  • provide input on specific proposals, master planning or design (e.g. a new playground or a companion animal management plan) for the relevant park.

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

The trust can support councils, the department, Greater Sydney Commission and other state agencies to identify emerging needs for green spaces during the development of regional, district and local plans and related policy development. The trust will also carry out site specific planning for new parks that may be added to the parks estate.

The trust can work with councils to:

  • contribute to local planning as the advocate for parks and local open space
  • facilitate discussions about opportunities to connect open spaces and corridors together, to realise the Greater Sydney Green Grid
  • bring neighbouring councils together, to advocate to the NSW Government around the critical role of parks as community infrastructure
  • support a ‘community of practice’ to share knowledge on innovative and contemporary approaches to parks management.

We propose the following planning functions for the trust:

  • ensure that existing or new regional parks to be incorporated into the Greater Sydney Parklands Estate align with the 50-Year Vision and strategic direction
  • develop plans of management
  • provide advice to the minister or other State agencies on matters relating to the Parklands Estate 
  • advise councils and state agencies on open space, park planning and management and implementation of the Greater Sydney Blue and Green Grid
  • assist with the establishment of strategic planning priorities for public and open space, including the reservation of land for future open space needs, in rapidly growing areas such as the South West Growth Area or Western Sydney Aerotropolis

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

This is not a ‘one size fits all’ model. The proposal recognizes that each park is different and may require a different approach.
Our preferred option is to have one umbrella trust with new legislation, while maintaining existing trusts and Acts. This option recognises the importance of place-specific trusts that understand local issues and can lead a place-sensitive approach. It also gives the Greater Sydney Parklands trust a framework to support a city-wide, integrated approach to planning and management of parks that is beyond the boundaries of the individual park trust ownership.

For more detail please refer to Section 3 of the white paper.

You can make a submission before close of business 5 July 2021.

Over the exhibition period the department will be holding a series of forums to hear your thoughts on the white paper.

The date for these sessions has yet to be confirmed. If you would like to be involved register your interest and we will send out details when they are available. 

 

The consultation period for the white paper runs from Monday, 24 May – Monday, 5 July