A NSW Government website

Open space

Open Spaces Program

We’re providing economic stimulus by creating quality open space for public health and community well-being.

New South Wales is set for an outdoor renaissance this summer, with an almost $50 million investment in new and improved open spaces to swim, play, roam, ride and connect with nature.

Access to great open space has never been more important, particularly as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic.

This investment in quality open spaces will also help to power the State’s economic recovery through the creation of jobs, stimulating businesses and providing stimulus to the recreation and visitor economy.

The NSW Government will deliver 3 streams of open space improvements through grant, pilot and demonstration programs over the next 3 years. This will contribute significantly to the NSW Government priorities to increase the proportion of homes in urban areas within 10 minutes’ walk of quality green, open and public space by 10% by 2023 and planting 1 million trees across greater Sydney by tree planting by 2022.

This program will focus on projects that are nearing the ‘shovel ready’ phase of planning, helping fast track the delivery of projects that are already in-train while contributing to the post pandemic economic recovery.

What are the program objectives?

The objectives of the Open Space Program are to:

  • support community health and wellbeing for NSW residents
  • contribute to the post pandemic economic recovery of NSW through the creation of jobs, stimulating businesses and the recreation and visitor economy
  • support investment in the creation of high-quality public and open spaces to create a lasting community benefit
  • address critical shortfalls in freely accessible public places
  • contribute to the delivery of the NSW Government priority for Greener Public Spaces by increasing the proportion of homes in urban areas within 10 minutes’ walk of quality green, open and public space by10% by 2023.
Kayaking, Nepean River. Credit: Destination NSW
Kayaking on the Nepean River

Places to Swim

The Places to Swim program will support the creation of places for the community to enjoy Sydney’s rivers, lakes and harbour. We will be working with councils and eligible state agencies to improve access to water for swimming and other passive recreation, such as kayaking and paddle boarding.

For more information, view the Places to Swim guidelines.

What is Places to Swim?

Places to Swim offers $16.7 million to better connect people to water in places that need it most, supporting the health and wellbeing of the community as we re-emerge from the pandemic.

Who is eligible to apply?

Funding is available to all Metropolitan Greater Sydney councils and eligible NSW Government agencies and entities.

Eligible NSW Government agencies include those who own and manage the publicly accessible land on which the projects will be delivered. The delivered facilities must be freely and publicly accessible and located in the Metropolitan Greater Sydney area.

What can funding be used for?

Funding is available for projects that are freely accessible to the community and can include:

  • harbour, lakes and riverfront precincts, including improvements for water-based recreation such as launching small non-powered watercraft (such as kayaks, canoe and paddle boards) and access to waterways for swimming.
  • walking tracks/trails and infrastructure that directly connect to and support access to water for recreation (not including boat ramps, fishing infrastructure and motorised boating infrastructure).
  • water playspaces that offer a place to enjoy water-based recreation for those council areas that do not have direct access to lakes, rivers or the Harbour.
  • amenities and facilities that directly support the recreational use of the waterways (change rooms, toilet facilities, picnic and BBQ facilities, foreshore works, netting, pontoons, signage).

Why are ocean pools not included?

We are very lucky in NSW to have access to some of the most beautiful coastlines and ocean pools in the world. The focus of Places to Swim is about better connecting people to natural bodies of water that are free to access, who may not have easy access to our great beaches and ocean pools.

How to be involved?

Expressions of interest (EOIs) are being sought from Metropolitan Greater Sydney councils and eligible NSW Government agencies and entities for pilot projects that can commence immediately.

Expressions of interest are now closed.

Applications for round 1 grant program for Places to Swim are NOW OPEN and will close on 4 March 2022 at 4pm.

For more information, download:

People walking in park with boy on scooter
Sydney Park

Places to Play

The Places to Play program builds on the commitment that Everyone Can Play. Play projects funded under this program will be expanded to promote adventure play (such as skate parks, pump tracks and mountain biking), water and nature-based play and will offer new outdoor recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities in NSW. These projects will create more and better places for the community to come together, enjoy the outdoors and play.

For more information, view the Places to Play guidelines.

What is Places to Play?

Places to Play offers $16.7 million to provide more public open spaces for adventure and play to support the health and wellbeing of the community. Places to Play will support the broadening of the Everyone Can Play program and will focus on the creation of inclusive water, nature and adventure play for people of all ages and abilities in New South Wales.

Who is eligible to apply?

Funding is available to all councils in NSW and eligible NSW state government agencies and entities.

Eligible state government agencies include those who own and manage the publicly accessible land on which the projects will be delivered. The delivered facilities must be freely and publicly accessible.

What can funding be used for?

The funding will support the creation of innovative and inclusive play and recreation spaces for people of all ages and abilities. This can include:

  • new and better public spaces that facilitate adventure sports and recreation (such as mountain biking, parkour, scooter and skate places, pump tracks etc).
  • nature and water play for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, and promotion of recreation and connection with nature for families and children following lockdown.
  • provision of outdoor recreation spaces for young people in areas where these facilities are in high demand but where there is an undersupply.

How is this program different to the Everyone Can Play grant program?

Places to Play builds on the success of the Everyone Can Play program and extends the objectives and principles of Everyone Can Play to adventure play, water and nature play. It is about creating places for play and adventure that are inclusive to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Places to Play takes the principles of Can I Get There, Can I Play, Can I Stay and applies it to things like mountain biking, scooter and skate parks, pump tracks and water and nature playspaces.

How to be involved?

Expressions of interest (EOIs) are being sought from councils and eligible NSW Government agencies and entities for adventure pilot projects that can commence immediately.

Expressions of interest are now closed.

Applications for the round 1 grant program for Places to Play are NOW OPEN and will close on 4 March 2022 at 4pm.

For more information, download:

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk, Palm Beach
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk, Palm Beach

Places to Roam

The Places to Roam program will deliver a series of open space, greenway and community garden projects across Greater Sydney; making new great walks, more outdoor recreation, nature, open space and waterways more accessible to communities.

What is Places to Roam?

The Places to Roam Program provides $16.7 million to deliver a series of regional walking and cycling trails, open space, greenway and community garden projects across Greater Sydney, making new great walks, more outdoor recreation, nature, open space and waterways more accessible to communities.

Who is eligible to apply?

Funding is available to all Metropolitan Greater Sydney councils.

What can funding be used for?

The funding will support councils in the delivery of walking and cycling trails that connect communities and provide recreation and potential tourism opportunities. This will include:

  • upgrading existing regional trail links to facilitate walking and cycling within existing green infrastructure such as the Greater Sydney Green Grid.
  • creation of new, or the linking of existing, trails by creating connections and pathways for walking, cycling and other forms of active travel.
  • community gardens for people of all ages to connect and collaborate on growing food, bushland restoration or local amenity.

How to be involved?

Applications are NOW OPEN and will close on 4 March 2022 at 4pm.

Apply for the Community Gardens program.

Apply for Regional Trails program.

For more information, download:

Applications and timing

When can I submit my application?

Applications are NOW OPEN and will close on 4 March 2022 at 4pm.

Apply for our programs:

Places to Swim

Places to Play

Places to Roam:

When will the Council know the outcome?

Successful pilot projects for Place to Swim and Places to Play will be announced late 2021. Successful applicants for the round 1 grant program will be notified in April 2022.

How long do applicants have to start and complete a project?

Councils and eligible state agencies will have 18 months to start and complete their projects once funding agreements have been executed. Community Garden projects must be delivered within 12 months of execution of the funding agreement.

Assessment

What are the assessment criteria?

How will applications be assessed?

An independent assessment panel will assess the projects using the criteria developed for each program. The assessment criteria will be weighted and following independent assessment, scores will be compiled, and the panel will convene to discuss and agree on the successful applicants.

Applicants may be contacted during this phase to clarify aspects of their submission or request additional information.

Who is on the assessment panel?

The assessment panel will be made up of NSW Government representatives from different agencies and will include external planning and design experts.

Support

What support will be provided in preparing the project proposals?

Program guidelines and fact sheets are available on this page that provide guidance around project eligibility, assessment criteria and other considerations that will assist you in preparing a robust proposal.

Our team will also be available to discuss your project options and provide any advice or assistance you might require.

We also encourage you to look at the NSW Draft Public Spaces Charter and Everyone Can Play Guidelines for further guidance around what quality public and open space looks like.

Watch the Open Spaces program Webinar to find out more about the Program.

Contact us

If you have any other questions about the Open Spaces Program, you can contact the team via email:

open.space@planning.nsw.gov.au