Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Cities / Sustainability

Self-sufficient urban precinct offers sustainable response to COVID-19 fragility

By Andrew Sansom 17 Jun 2020 0

With the COVID-19 pandemic having exposed the weaknesses of global supply chains, communities may place higher value on self-sufficiency, health and wellbeing, and local amenities such as parks once the disruption of lockdowns has passed.

According to Lee Allen, director of urban design and landscape architecture at design practice GHDWoodhead, the Western Parkland City being planned around Western Sydney Airport offers an opportunity for urban development that is both self-sufficient and sustainable.

Designed by GHDWoodhead, the Agri-Precinct concept showcases how sustainability and self-sufficiency principles and the latest technologies can be incorporated to create an attractive and liveable urban precinct within the Western Parkland City.

“The concept was developed in response to the growing population in western Sydney and the current and planned investment in infrastructure,” Lee explains. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to incorporate leading-edge sustainability measures into urban design from the outset, while also learning the lessons of COVID-19 about essential industries like food production and distribution. Agri-Precinct, residential - GHDWoodhead

“The Agri-Precinct will focus on growing investment in agricultural innovations to create local jobs and foster a greater sense of local community. It will also include lots of green space, sporting fields, walking and cycling tracks for healthier lifestyles. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored just how important all of these things are.” 

According to the Greater Sydney Commission, the population of the Western Parkland City is projected to grow from 740,000 in 2016 to 1.1 million by 2036. This growth will drive demand for residential, commercial and industrial development in a region that the Commission notes has “many more hot days, low rainfall and less tree canopy cover” compared with other parts of Sydney.

Featuring extensive areas of restored Blue Gum habitat, the Agri-Precinct would support a population of about 25,000 and comprise 800ha of agricultural land, more than 24ha of solar developments, and an extensive wind farm.

Informed by circular economy principles, the Agri-Precinct is described as self-sustaining in regard to natural resources: water recycling, agriculture, energy supply, and the recycling of organic and inorganic materials. Agri-Precinct, street view - GHDWoodhead

Other key features include:

  • Metro corridors: Land around corridors is used for water management, energy capture, green pedestrian and cycle connectivity, future-proofing transport innovation, and organic/inorganic resource processing facilities.
  • Micro-agriculture: Early-stage establishment of agricultural areas produces crops, building materials, nursery plant stock and a mature green framework for future urban development.
  • Innovation hubs: The Agri-Precinct provides six independent research and development opportunities available to government, education and private enterprise. The facilitates would act as a catalyst for the local economy and develop agricultural knowledge and innovation for the future.
  • Carbon-positive lifestyle: The Agri-Precinct would be the home to peri-urban off-grid/carbon-positive lifestyles – making the traditional quarter-acre block more sustainable, more productive and better connected to walking/bike tracks and public transport.
  • Sustainable urban centre: Located within walking distance to the metro station, the urban centre includes residential, commercial and retail amenities. Vertical farms, hydroponic floors, green and blue roofs, and landscape plazas are agriculturally productive, increasing greenery, managing stormwater and reducing the urban heat island effect.
  • Habitat and community open space: Extensive connected areas of bushland and restored creek habitat will be available to the community. Walking and cycling tracks will link recreation areas, sports fields and natural areas, while the habitat areas will act as a carbon sink and provide native habitat restoration.

“The vision supports a shared goal between government and private investors of delivering attractive and sustainable urban environments, while also responding to the growing demand for lifestyles that have less environmental impact,” Lee concludes.

Organisations involved