Penrith, Australia

Photo by Penrith City Council

Implementation, Impact and Replicability

How does the initiative demonstrate evidence of a track record of success against pursued objectives?          

Council is actively delivering positive outcomes, contributing to creating a cooler and more liveable area. This includes a broad range of tree planting projects, and engagement with the community.
Recent tree planting projects include:

  • Tree planting commencing in 2021 to deliver 5,000 street and park trees in suburbs identified as more vulnerable to heat, have low canopy, and higher proportions of vulnerable residents.
  • 340 semi mature trees planted in Chameleon Reserve in Erskine Park (2020), aligned with work to improve recreational spaces
  • Council Shade program (2020) to increase shade across 90 playgrounds. The project will increase shade through a mixture of tree planting and installing shade sails which block out 97-99% of UV.
  • Since 2018, Bushcare have planted around 10,000 native plants. This includes planting by volunteers, contractors and Council staff, and planting at community events.
  • Council undertook a street tree planting pilot in St Marys (2019). Close to 400 semi mature street trees were planted.

Council is also working to create a cooler city centre. The City Park project will create a greenspace of approximately 7,000sqm, and include shade trees and pergolas, as well as water misting features to make a cool space. The Soper Place development will convert an asphalt carpark in to a multideck carpark, complete with rooftop garden section and green walls, again alleviating urban heat.

Council’s cooling the city community engagement programs including a video and animation series has, and speaker videos from the homes and heat event have reached over 1200 people in the community.

How has the initiative had a ripple effect beyond the scope of the initiative itself, thereby demonstrating a change in the city’s and/or its partners’ way of working with plants?

A key focus of Council’s Cooling the City program is to foster positive change for reducing urban heat and increasing resilience of urban spaces across Western Sydney for our future projected climate. This approach acknowledges that heat is a challenge that impacts across a geographical area, and that creating cooler development is a priority for the growth in Sydney’s west.

The delivery of the Cooling the City Masterclass in 2020 demonstrated a ripple effect, with a post survey highlighting attendee motivation to take action, working towards implementing practical steps within their own organisation/city.

Released in 2021, the Cooling the City Issues Paper was developed following an engagement process with stakeholders across Western Sydney and identifies critical opportunities in the state planning context to create improved urban development adaptive to heat. The advocacy program identifies partner organisations for council to collaborate with to ensure we are all advocating for better planning solutions including green infrastructure on private and public land to address heat.

The Cooling the City Strategy and Resilient Penrith Action Plan promote increased canopy cover and green infrastructure. Based on Council’s commitment to cooling and greening to increase liveability of the city and resilience of the community, the Penrith Green Grid Strategy has been developed using the approach of a multi-disciplinary working group to ensure green corridors have now been strategically mapped and priority greening projects identified across the Penrith area, using green corridors to increase shade, cooling, biodiversity, amenity and align with the existing blue grid.

How have other cities expressed interest in the initiative, or what potential does it have to interest other cities and be customised to their own circumstances?

The Cooling the City program is a comprehensive approach to creating cooler and more liveable urban spaces, that other local governments can use as examples and adapt for their local areas.
Council has been invited to provide updates to the Resilient Sydney Ambassadors Network. Resilient Sydney aims to foster robust resilience programs in the 33 councils across Greater Sydney. The ambassadors network includes key staff involved in coordinating and delivering resilience focused actions. Given the large number of actions delivered by councils across Sydney, to be asked to deliver outlines of the program to the network is a great positive reflection of the esteem in which it is held.

Council has also presented on key projects within the Cooling the City program to other cities, including presenting on the Living Places St Marys street tree planting pilot to the 202020 Growing Together conference as well as the Illawarra Walk Alliance. Council’s cooling the city program and actions under the Resilient Penrith Action Plan have been presented to Western Sydney Councils through regional forums, as well as to Committees of the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District. A cooling the city case study has been included in the Local Council Guidance for Climate Health and Wellbeing report published by Western Sydney University. Additionally, we have received requests to provide our heat monitoring report to the local Members of Parliament and requests from international organisations to use the Cooling the City Strategy as a case study in their own research.