After the disruption of COVID-19, communities may place higher value on self-sufficiency, health, wellbeing and local amenities, says GHDWoodhead’s Lee Allen, as his firm launches an agri-precinct for Western Sydney.
Allen, GHD Woodhead’s director of urban design and landscape architecture, says the agri-precinct concept shows how sustainability and self-sufficiency principles, teamed with the latest technologies, can create an attractive and liveable urban precinct in Western Sydney.
According to the Greater Sydney Commission, the population of the Western Parkland City is projected to grow from 740,000 people in 2016 to 1.1 million by 2036.
This will drive demand for residential, commercial and industrial development in a region which has many more hot days, low rainfall and less tree canopy cover than other parts of Sydney.
“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,” Allen says.
GHDWoodhead’s agri-precinct concept would support a population of around 25,000 and comprise 800 hectares of agricultural land, more than 24 hectares of solar developments and an extensive wind farm.
The agri-precinct would grow its own food, recycle water, generate renewable electricity and provide generous spaces for walking, cycling and sports.
Agricultural areas would produce crops, building materials, nursery plant stock and a mature green framework for the future urban development.
The urban centre, located within walking distance of the metro station, would feature vertical farms, hydroponic floors, green and blue roofs, and landscape plazas to increase greenery, manage stormwater, produce food and reduce the urban heat island effect.
The proposal also provides six independent research and development opportunities, which would act as a catalyst for the local economy and develop agricultural knowledge and innovation.
The vision also includes restored bushland and creek habitat, walking and cycling tracks and sports fields.
Allen says GHDWoodhead’s vision is of a precinct that “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.”