A more accessible 30-minute Sydney could deliver a $10 billion annual economic dividend for the NSW economy, according to a new report developed by Deloitte Access Economics in collaboration with Westpac.
ImagineSydney, Live focuses on accessibility as a key aspect of liveability, and a new 30-Minute City Index for the first time measures numbers of jobs, shops, hospitals, and schools that can be accessed across metropolitan Sydney by area within 30 minutes, as well as traditional liveability measures such open space and safety.
According to Deloitte Managing Partner, Sydney, Nicola Alcorn: “So many things contribute to Sydney being one of the most liveable cities in the world.
“People and economic activity are drawn to Sydney precisely because of its liveability, but it’s a delicate balance as we also need to manage our environmental impact, congestion levels and city density to maintain the liveability we all want for ourselves, our families and our communities.
“A city can’t be truly liveable if people can’t readily access the things they need to do and the places they want to be. So we’ve undertaken some new analysis to add to this important topic. We’ve asked; just how liveable is Sydney right now? And what are the most valuable changes, tangible or otherwise, that all of of us, across government, the private sector and as individuals, can make to improve liveability?
“And we’ve analysed the economic benefits of getting a 30-minute city right. There’s a potential dividend to the NSW economy of up to $10 billion a year to be had via reduced dailiy commuting times, productivity gains from agglomeration and infrastructure investments.”
Westpac Institutional Bank Chief Executive, Lyn Cobley, said: “Sydney’s growth forecasts put a focus on infrastructure provision, housing affordability, congestion and access to work and services.
“The long-term strategy to create three thriving cities is a visionary solution to a major challenge. Through this collaboration with Deloitte, Westpac is committed to helping to realise the potential of 30-minute cities and the lifestyle and economic dividends they can deliver for New South Wales
“As one of Australia’s largest employers, with 13 million customers, Westpac is a major financier to the housing sector and lead funder of infrastructure projects. We are committed to supporting innovative partnerships with industry, the social sector and governments to create more affordable long-term housing options.”
The 30-Minute City Index
In creating the 30-Minute City Index, Deloitte Access Economics has measured the accessibility of jobs, shops, hospitals, and schools across metropolitan Sydney from each area, within 30 minutes.
Deloitte Access Economics partner and one of the report authors, Kathryn Matthews said: “Sydney is still a largely monocentric city, and for too many people, we have a fair way to go to be a true 30-minute city.
“Areas that rank higher on our 30-Minute City Index provide greater accessibility to the jobs and services that are central to our lives, and are more “liveable” as a result.
“People will be interested to see where their neighbourhood ranks, and possibly surprised to see some areas ranking higher than others.”
The most accessible and liveable areas – Sydney’s 30-minute neighbourhoods – are currently clustered in and around the job hub that is Sydney’s CBD. But the Index’s “Top 50” also includes areas such as Kogarah, Lakemba and Liverpool.
“Ultimately, any economic and employment hub requires infrastructure to support activity and an innovative approach to transport will be the key to unlocking 30-minute city potential,” Matthews said.
“These infrastructure investments will be costly, but they will also result in significant and sustainable economic growth benefits for Sydney. With the right commitment, planning and investment, we think creating 30-minute neighbourhoods for as many as possible is a worthy, and achievable, goal.”
Getting it right
Improving liveability in Sydney and giving people more choice in, and autonomy over, their lives, requires a truly collaborative effort involving government, business and communities:
- Governments have an important role to play in ensuring the right incentives exist for businesses and individuals to distribute throughout the city, and in supporting a policy environment where urban and transport planners can adapt flexibly to changing needs
- Businesses can contribute to the public discussion on what is needed to support business investment and operations. Businesses might also consider the benefits of clustering along transport networks or expanding their current footprint into Western Sydney. And they can embrace agile and flexible work practices which may alleviate commuter ‘pinch points’ or, in some cases, potentially remove the need to commute altogether
- Individuals and communities will be the ones driving the change they want to see from governments and businesses, and this will come through demand for flexible working for example, as well as clearly articulating the culture, amenities and facilities they would like to see in an area that would attract them to live there.
“There’s clearly much to be gained from an increase in accessibility. But to achieve a 30-minute reality, we must maintain momentum, and do so across government, in the private sector and in our communities,” Alcorn said. “It will take a combined effort to make this a reality. And one that will require a shift in mindset so that we’re living smarter and better connected lives.”
The first report in Deloitte’s four-part ImagineSydney series – ImagineSydney, Create – presented an economic heat map identifying Sydney’s innovation hotspots, offered new solutions to unlocking the city’s future growth potential, and concluded that if just 10% of Sydney’s businesses did something new and innovative every year, the city’s gross regional product could increase by $25 billion. The Play and Work editions of this series are to follow.