Sunday, August 19, 2012

Living Street in Sydney

On Saturday I attended the opening of the "Living Street" in Taylor Street, Annandale, Sydney. This is a project by the Leichhardt Council to green the street and slow the traffic, while retaining parking. The real thing looks remarkably like the artist's rendering in the council's plans. The Chester Street end of the road had already been blocked to through traffic, in a previous project, with installed a playground across a bend in the road. To this the living street project added gardens built out from the footpath, up to Booth Street. These have a intermittent concrete curb on the uphill side and a solid curb n the downhill side to to collect runoff. One section of the street has a garden built out, with bridges for pedestrian access. All the work looks robust. One of the principle ways this will make the street livable is by discouraging through traffic.

The implementation is not perfect. Some of the newly installed drains are too high, so that runoff will over-top the concrete curbs and flow down the road, or onto the foot path. In other places the drains are too low, so that water will run straight down the drain, without time to be absorbed into the swale. The low outlet problem could be fixed by placing sandbags around them, which would filter the water (also preventing leaf litter being into the drains, blocking them).
Leichhardt Council has received a grant of $250,000 to create a Living Street within the LGA .The vision is ‘to create and implement a model for sustainable living within an urban street context focusing on infrastructure changes and environmental education.’

Taylor Street has been selected as the Leichhardt Living Streets pilot project.

The project objectives will be to:-
  • create a sustainable environment in the Leichhardt Living Street
  • improve the sustainability of households living in the street
  • Improve actions and behaviours across a range of environmental issues
  • Improve social outcomes for residents
What is a Living Street ?

It is a place where a street is returned as a community asset to be shared by pedestrians, playing children, cyclists and low-speed motor vehicles.

The goal of the Living Streets project in Taylor Street is to make progress in two areas of sustainability by adopting an wholistic approach.

The two areas of sustainability are:
  • Improvement of street infrastructure
  • Development of community awareness through environmental education.
Broadly, the project will develop what American environmental writer, Robert Gottlieb describes as an ‘Urban Nature Agenda. A pocket park or community garden in one neighborhood can form Ropart of a process of reclaiming urban land otherwise abandoned or degraded’. (Gottlieb 2008)

Living Streets - vital biodiversity Existing and potential tree canopies can form flora and fauna corridors that contribute to urban nature and provide opportunities for the detention and reuse of stormwater. In this way, a street can contribute to urban nature and help mitigate urban air, noise pollution and the consequences of excessive heat. ...

From: What is a living street?, Leichhardt Council, 2009

1 comment:

Leigh Blackall said...

Nice to read. In the 90s we used to do all this in a very adhoc way during street parties called "Reclaim the Street". Like most people, we thought our events were all new, and didn't bother to find and connect historical parallels. Jump forward to 2010, when the Canberra 2020 project was being run by a Sydney mob, I was quite alarmed to discover that most people, if not all, who were engaging in that forum, had never heard of that significant book from the 70s, about town planning - A Pattern Language.