A plan to create 9,000 square metres of car-free space along George Street has been announced by the City of Sydney.
In March, development work along George Street (between Town Hall down to Railway Square) to widen footpaths, install new street furniture and paving to accommodate extra dining and walking spaces commenced.
Sydney council dubbed the $43.5 million car-free development a ‘world-class pedestrian boulevard’ that will also see more trees planted along the light rail route.
“Block by block, we’re turning bitumen into beautiful paving with room for new trees, outdoor dining and street furniture,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“This work will complete our long-held vision of turning George Street into wonderful tree-lined pedestrian and light rail boulevard through the heart of our city.”
Replacing the car lanes with granite footpaths is one of the key features of the development. New lighting will also be installed along the street and the intersections of that part of road will be simplified to reduce travel time.
A statement released by council said that part of the $43.5 million price-tag for the project came from the federal government ($7.05 million for elements of the project between Bathurst and Goulburn streets) and NSW government ($1 million for overall works).
Committee for Sydney Chief Executive Gabriel Metcalf said that the car-free, pedestrian-friendly development of another part of Sydney’s CBD had made George Street ‘one of the world’s best streets’.
He added that the Committee of Sydney wanted to see foot traffic on George Street draw more people to enjoy public life in the city.
“We’re excited to see the next phase of Sydney’s public space renaissance unfold,” Metcalf said.
According to David Highet, a director of operations for the venue owner of Albion Place Hotel on George Street, the project will revitalise a busy part of the city that had suffered a slump during COVID-19.
He said that businesses would be inspired to explore new opportunities in the area if the ‘European-style boulevard’ could draw people back into the area.
“This is going to help turn George Street south into a destination in its own right and take the precinct to the next level,” Highet said.
Clover Moore said it was hoped the project would add a boost to the local economy as part of the city’s COVID-19 recovery.
“We are working closely with businesses to minimise disruption and thank everyone for their patience as we undertake this transformative project,” Moore said.
This article was first published by The Mandarin.