Next Generation Specialist
Transport Planning and Engineering Consultants

Sydney – Heading towards an equitable polycentric city

udia nsw lucy turnbull

The Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, Lucy Turnbull AO, provided an industry briefing on Thursday 16 February 2017 at the Urban Development Industry Association (UDIA) NSW.  Around 500 people attended the event which was full of grand plans, acronyms and a vision for Sydney in 2036. 

The Chief Commissioner spoke about how, in broad terms, Sydney was going to house an extra 1.7 million people by 2036 and by achieving this, there will be “more people west of Blacktown than in Adelaide”.

The Greater Sydney Commission has also released draft district plans for the different areas of Sydney.  The projected population growth in each district between 2017 and 2036 is as follows:

  • North – 196,350
  • Central – 325,000
  • West-Central – 550,550
  • South – 204,100
  • South-West – 372,950
  • West – 91,500
  • Total - 1,740, 450

To put that in context, the entire North West Priority Growth Centre is expected to cater for an additional 200,000 people.  Clearly Sydney doesn’t have enough greenfield land to accommodate this growth so the majority of the growth will have to come from existing residential and commercial areas.  To protect the existing green areas of Sydney, the Greater Sydney Commission has been working on a metropolitan green space program with the NSW Government architects office.

In 2036, Sydney will essentially be centred around three main areas:

  1. The current Sydney CBD
  2. Parramatta
  3. Western Sydney Airport 

Currently, Sydney has an uneven polycentric city however each of the individual centres outside of the current CBD will have to get larger over time if more jobs are to be provided where people will live.  The Chief Commissioner spoke of the aim to create “an equitable polycentric city” with a diverse range of housing choices and the goal of supporting health and education precincts to create cities around them with a 30-minute travel catchment. 

Whilst in some cases the plans are similar to what have been presented in years past, there is now a definite shift to the west given the certainty around the Badgery’s Creek Airport, the promotion of Parramatta as a second CBD and recent large scale transport projects such as Sydney Metro between the north-west and Bankstown and the western Sydney Light Rail which will support the GPOP.  The GPOP stands for Greater Parramatta to the Olympic Peninsular.

In November 2016, the Greater Sydney Commission released draft District Plans for each of the six districts across Sydney.  The District Plans are on public exhibition until 31 March 2017.  For more information on the Greater Sydney Commission and the District Plans, please visit