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 public space near where you live has never been more important.

New and improved public 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 public 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 open spaces to create a lasting community benefit
  • address 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 to water 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.

Learn more

People walking in park with boy on scooter
Sydney Park

Places to Play

The Places to Play program funds innovative adventure, water and nature based places for people of all ages and abilities across NSW, building on the commitment of the Everyone Can Play program.

Projects funded under this program will offer new and improved outdoor recreation opportunities and create more and better places for the community to come together, enjoy the outdoors and play.

Applications for the Places to Play Grant Program 2022/23 are now open to all NSW councils and eligible state government agencies. Applications close on 15 December 2022.

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 both the Place to Swim and Places to Play Grant Program 2022/23 have closed. Successful applications will be announced in early 2023.

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.

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

Councils and eligible state government agencies must complete their projects by June 2024.Community Garden projects must be delivered within 12 months of execution of the funding agreement.

Assessment

What are the assessment criteria?

These are outlined in guidelines that are now available:

How will applications be assessed?

An independent assessment panel assessed the applications using the criteria developed for each program. The assessment criteria is weighted, and following independent assessment scores are compiled, with the final stage convening the panel 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 external planning and design experts.

Support

What support will be provided in preparing the project proposals?

Program guidelines 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.

We also encourage you to look at the Public Open Space Strategy for NSW and Everyone Can Play Guidelines for further guidance on creating spaces that are inclusive.

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.