Directions for a Greater Sydney

Directions for a Greater Sydney has been produced by the Greater Sydney Commission to better integrate land use and infrastructure to deliver a more productive, liveable and sustainable Greater Sydney to 2056.

Directions for a Greater Sydney builds upon Three Cities and Towards our Greater Sydney 2056 (PDF, 10MB) and is presented in two parts:

  • A vision for Greater Sydney to 2056 and 10 directions to realise this vision. This forms the basis of our future integrated government strategies.
  • The significant policies and plans to which the NSW Government has currently committed. This provides clarity about where we are now and sets the foundation upon which we can begin to grow a Greater Sydney.

The diagram below illustrates how the concurrent development of three major plans will align land use, transport and infrastructure planning and delivery across Greater Sydney. This is how NSW Government agencies are collaborating with the Commission for the future of Greater Sydney.

The page below illustrates a summary of Directions for a Greater Sydney. To read a full version, view the digital magazine or download the PDF on this page.

Ten directions for Greater Sydney

  • Providing adequate infrastructure to support population growth is essential to creating strong communities. Therefore, the Commission is developing a series of mechanisms to better align growth with infrastructure. One mechanism is the Growth Infrastructure Compact which will assess the nature, level and timing of infrastructure required for an area in light of its forecast housing and employment growth, including analysis of growth scenarios. This approach will demonstrate the correlation between growth and infrastructure, such as public transport, schools and open space, and allow for the timely integration and more effective expenditure on infrastructure by location.

  • A growing Greater Sydney presents an opportunity to build social and cultural connections and networks. Strategic planning will capitalise on local identity, heritage and cultural values, together with easier access to services to foster a more resilient and connected society.

  • Sustained population growth over the coming decades will require a minimum of 36,250 new homes every year. Combined with changing demographics and housing affordability challenges, greater housing choice will be needed. This relates to a range of housing types, tenures and price points together with rental accommodation for lower income households and social housing for the most vulnerable. The provision of more housing will occur concurrently with the creation of liveable neighbourhoods close to employment opportunities, public transport, walking and cycling options for diverse, inclusive multi-generational and cohesive communities.

  • Great places recognise local characteristics and the qualities people value. As Greater Sydney grows and changes, its places will offer more than just new homes and jobs. They will enhance well-being and a sense of community identity by delivering safe, inclusive and walkable mixed use areas that exhibit urban design excellence and are connected to social infrastructure and open spaces. These places will respect heritage and foster interaction and healthy lifestyles by encouraging exercise, creativity, enterprise and innovation.

  • Enhancing Greater Sydney’s productivity, export sectors and global competitiveness will be critical to increasing the region’s economic activity to $655 billion by 2036. This will require greater choice for where development can occur to enable the required employment growth of 817,000 jobs. Strategic planning will guide the locations of business growth and investment and provide better freight connections, economic agglomerations and skills development.

  • By 2036, the number of journeys across Greater Sydney is projected to increase to 22 million trips a day (up 40% from 2016). To address this increase, the NSW Government will plan for quick, efficient and more localised connections to jobs, schools and services. A key outcome is for more people to have 30-minute public transport access to one of the three cities and to services in their nearest district centre seven days a week. Co-locating jobs and services, improving transport efficiency and creating more efficient freight networks will also improve productivity.

  • Greater Sydney has evolved within outstanding natural and scenic landscapes. As it grows, strategic planning will manage the effects of urban development to protect, restore and enhance these landscapes, waterways, natural areas and open spaces. A healthy natural environment will be important to improve liveability, create healthy places, and mitigate the effects of climate change.

  • As Greater Sydney grows, innovative management of water, energy, resources and waste will be required in strategic land use, transport and infrastructure planning to reduce costs, carbon emissions and environmental impacts. New approaches to water management and urban design will be part of the response to climate change and will help to cool the region, particularly the Western parkland city.

  • Resilient cities are those where the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems survive, adapt, and grow notwithstanding chronic stresses and acute shocks. This means building capacity in social and ecological systems to adapt and respond to both known and unforeseen impacts, including changes in technology and climate. Optimising the use of new city shaping technologies can support resilience to improve quality of life and productivity.

  • Managing the competing needs of a city requires all levels of government, industry and the community to work together. This is particularly important as development pressures grow. Collaboration between government, industry and local communities will result in the best use of resources such as public spaces, school ovals and community facilities. Communities will be involved in planning for their local infrastructure and services.

Greater Sydney vision to 2056

Three cities Map

Greater Sydney will be a global metropolis of three productive, liveable and sustainable cities: Western parkland city, Central river city and Eastern harbour city.

  • Western Parkland City - The Western Sydney Airport will be the catalyst for an emerging aerotropolis and tourism gateway. It will grow a strong economy in trade, logistics, advanced manufacturing, health, education and science.
  • Central River City - Greater Parramatta and the Olympic Peninsula (GPOP) will be the focus for this developing city, with health, education, administration, finance and business services driving the economy.
  • Eastern Harbour City - The established Eastern harbour city will continue to grow as Australia’s global gateway, with a strong financial, professional services, FinTech, health and education economy.

Greater Sydney’s strategic centres and transport gateways contain half of Greater Sydney’s jobs. The NSW Government’s focus on concentrating jobs and education facilities will maximise choices to a wide variety of jobs and improve skills development.


Jobs and skills for the city legend

A productive, liveable and sustainable Greater Sydney requires better collaboration with partners and continued investment in transport and other infrastructure. The Commission acknowledges planning and development to support record investment in transport, health, arts and culture, and education has already commenced.


A well connected city

Greater Sydney is experiencing a step change, driven by a strong economy as well as population growth from natural increases and net migration. There is a consequent need to accelerate housing supply to meet this demand and to improve housing affordability. A minimum need for 725,000 additional dwellings is forecast for 2036. This number will be tested further by the Commission as part of the development of the draft Greater Sydney Region Plan.

Current State Government programs identify significant capacity across Greater Sydney for more than 294,000 dwellings to 2036. This is in addition to relatively high levels of council approvals and completions since 2010-11.

Heat Map Legend

Housing the city