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A 30-minute Sydney is an ambitious goal, but may be achievable if land use planning and transport connectivity are considered together. The Hon. Patricia Forsythe, Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber shares her views on the benefits of a 30-minute Sydney, including what needs to be done to get it right.
What are your overall perspectives on liveability in Sydney?
The answer depends on where you live in Sydney. Some areas, particularly the Eastern Suburbs, North Shore and Northern Suburbs already have good lifestyle choices in terms of schools, opportunities for work, and access to transport. For people in these areas, a local-community lifestyle and hence a 30-minute city is certainly possible.
Many other areas in Sydney have grown rapidly but with less accessibility. For example, the post-war focus on housing development led to a rapid increase in residential areas from the 1960s to the 1980s, but without sufficient planning around local job opportunities. Density also decreases as you move away from the CBD, which means people have to travel further and longer to access work.
What can we learn from other global cities?
Two things are key to getting a 30-minute city right: jobs and transport. Connectivity is critical to enabling liveability – in England, for example, people are willing to live greater distances from work because of an efficient public transport system that includes an extensive express train network.
We’ve also learnt that incentives to encourage decentralisation only work while they are in place. The availability of key infrastructure and the design of a sustainable, connected city increase the liveability of suburbs. Where hubs organically grow around airports, health precincts or universities, appropriate land use planning is essential to provide the opportunities for sustaining businesses and to create liveable precincts.
What can be done to make a 30-minute city a reality?
The Sydney Business Chamber focusses on jobs and economic centres. We also work with the Greater Sydney Commission and with thought leaders and civic leaders to develop strategies on land use and advocate for key transport connections. Governments can do their bit by ensuring land use and transport are considered together in planning decisions around Sydney. The private sector can continue to analyse the impact of disruption and change on their operations and to also consider how technology can improve the way their employees work. Individuals can reflect on their decision-making and seek opportunities to reduce their travel time. Where opportunities are available to make changes – such as new last mile transport trials, flexible working practices, and the ability to work from home – individuals should give these a go and see what works for them.
Niki Alcorn is the Office Managing Partner for Sydney. She is a Technology, Media and Telecommunications specialist and a Strategy Partner in the Consulting team. Niki has over 12 years of experience in corporate and business unit strategy, digital strategy and business transformation projects, working with many leading Australian organisations within TMT and more broadly.