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New active recreational space needed

Now compare that to the future we face living in the City of Sydney.

Dozens of cranes are adding the next 60-80 metres high towers of two- and three-bedroom apartments from Ultimo-Pyrmont through to Green Square. Soon there will be 60 hectares of development in the prized Bays Precinct, and then the huge Central to Eveleigh project.

The failure to guarantee new sporting facilities as a fundamental principle of the major new housing projects in the City of Sydney is an extraordinary failure of leadership from Council, the state government and its development agencies.

There are thousands of pages of academic research on the importance of active recreational sport for creating social capital – through to the irrefutable health studies of how exercise is critical to wellbeing and to reducing health budgets.

For every 10,000 new residents in the new apartments, at least 40 per cent will want sporting facilities.

City of Sydney’s past 20 years is littered with examples of the failure to provide new fields and other basic infrastructure to ensure a healthy and vibrant community. At Harold Park, despite Council’s own 2008 “Stratcorp Recreational Needs Study” admitting a facilities shortfall, another 2,000-plus new residents have no new facilities.

The reason why active recreational space is ignored is very simple. There is not a requirement that new major development must make provision for new sporting facilities.

Don’t expect the property developers, or the conga line of urban planners, environmental planners, and architects that control the narrative around “Better Cities” to demand the active open space.

So there has been a narrative accepted that open space only means cycle-ways, pocket parks and walkways. Basically passive, not active space.

Most people at least acknowledge the economic arguments around urban renewal and higher population in the inner city. But governments at all levels are refusing to accept that they are failing future generations by ignoring the health and economic benefits of providing new sporting facilities for residents.

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