A DRAFT strategy by the City of Sydney shows how the transformation of George Street into a light rail and pedestrian boulevard can maximise public use and enjoyment, while also delivering a strong business and retail environment.
The draft strategy, titled 'George Street 2020: A Public Domain Activation Strategy' considers outdoor dining, vending, creative and cultural activities and a range of other improvements to enhance pedestrian comfort and encourage people to walk, stroll or dwell and enjoy George Street.
By 2020, George Street will be transformed into Sydney's new civic spine as part of the $2.1 billion CBD and South East Light Rail project. The vision is for a high-quality pedestrian boulevard that will link Sydney's future squares and key public spaces.
"When the light rail project is complete in five years, George Street will feature a one-kilometre pedestrianised area between Bathurst and Hunter streets," Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
"This transformation is a unique opportunity to ensure that George Street becomes a world class boulevard that is also a thriving business and retail environment."
The strategy looks at ways that temporary and permanent seating and lighting in the public areas, as well as building edges, awnings and signage, can contribute to the success of George Street.
The City's vision for George Street is guided by a number of principles, including maximising pedestrian space, minimising streetscape clutter, ensuring a vibrant retail environment and creating a 24-hour street of diverse offerings beyond traditional business hours.
Light rail will run down the middle of George Street, with a tree zone on either side, followed by a variable 'flex-zone' for street furniture (seats, bins, bubblers and bollards), and a 3.6-metre pedestrian area along buildings' edges.
In December last year, the NSW Government announced that it had finalised the contract with the ALTRAC Light Rail consortium (formerly known as Connecting Sydney) to design, construct, finance, operate and maintain the CBD and South East Light Rail project.
The ALTRAC Light Rail consortium is made up of Transdev Sydney, Alstom Transport Australia, Acciona Infrastructure Australia and Capella Capital. From mid-2015, the consortium will also have responsibility for the existing Inner West Light Rail.
The new light rail line will extend from Circular Quay along George Street to Central Station, through Surry Hills to Moore Park, then to Kensington and Kingsford via Anzac Parade and Randwick via Alison Road and High Street. Major construction of the project is due to finish in 2018, and services scheduled to commence in early 2019.
'George Street 2020: A Public Domain Activation Strategy' is on public exhibition until 13 March 2015. More information is available from the City of Sydney's 'Sydney Your Say' website at <http://sydneyyoursay.com.au/>.
Image: Artist's impression of light rail on George Street, Sydney / Transport for NSW.