A NSW Government website

Open space

Open Spaces Program

We’re creating quality open spaces to enhance community well-being and make our places more liveable

Access to great open space near where you live has never been more important.

New and improved open spaces to swim, play, roam, ride and connect with nature are being delivered across New South Wales through a $50 million investment by the NSW Government.

This investment in quality open spaces in communities across the state supports the delivery of a pipeline of new homes with improved neighbourhood spaces to connect, unwind, relax and play. It will also deliver jobs, stimulate businesses and encourage recreation and visitor economy.

Over three years, the NSW Government is delivering on this commitment to high quality open space through the provision of grant funding, pilot and demonstration projects and the creation of best practice design guidelines.  This will contribute significantly to the NSW Government’s Premiers 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.

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 by 10% by 2023.
People swimming at South West Rocks.
Swimming at South West Rocks

Places to Swim

The Places to Swim program supports the creation and improvement of places for the community to enjoy rivers, lakes, dams and inland waterways across NSW. We do this by working with councils and eligible state agencies to improve access so that more people can get in, on and around water.

Places to Swim is about more than just swimming – it is about connecting people to water in the places that need it most. Getting in, on and around water is an invitation for people of all ages, abilities and cultures to come together and enjoy water.

For more information, view the Places to Swim program guidelines.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

Applications and timing

When can I submit my application?

Applications for the Places to Swim 2022-23 grant program are now open and will close on 21 November 2022.

Places to Swim is a competitive grant program, and while matched funding is not a requirement, projects that include a financial contribution from council and/or from other grant programs will be prioritised

Applications for the Places to Roam 2022-23 grant program closed on 30 September 2022. Applications are currently being assessed. Successful applications will be announced in late November 2022.

Please keep an eye out for Places to Swim and Places to Play 2022-23 grant program announcements.

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.

How to apply

For Places to Swim 2022-23 Grant applications, complete and submit your application in SmartyGrants.

Need advice?

If you are having difficulty with your application on the SmartyGrants system, check out the help guide for applicants at applicanthelp.smartygrants.com.au.


What are the assessment criteria?

These are outlined in Guidelines that are now available:

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.


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 (PDF, 8748.13 KB) 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 Places to Swim and Places to Play programs, you can contact the team at open.space@planning.nsw.gov.au.

If you have any other questions about the Places to Roam program, you can contact the team at greenspace@planning.nsw.gov.au.