Sydney’s CBD is past its use-by datePosted by On


Our central business districts aren’t going to bounce back from COVID. Office vacancy rates in the CBDs of Sydney and Parramatta remain stubbornly high. And ideas such as forcing people back to the office five days a week, or Inner West Council’s proposal to charge higher rates for landlords who can’t get tenants, aren’t going to put things back the way they used to be.

Sydney’s CBDs will bounce forward rather than back from COVID.

Sydney’s CBDs will bounce forward rather than back from COVID. Credit:Jessica Hromas

Our CBDs are going to bounce forward, not back. They will rebound on a totally different trajectory in 2023. Over the course of the pandemic, the NSW government has invested $66 million in ways to reinvent how our central urban areas function. Programs to move dining into streets and public spaces, pop-up events, new walking and cycling paths, and reduced controls over music, retail and service of food and drinks have all changed the way we experience city streets.

CBDs are a concept past their use-by date. The phrase “central business district” was coined by white, male, middle class planners in the 1930s and 40s.

And it has worked. While the pandemic threatened to destroy thousands of urban services jobs, street activation has created more than 13,500 jobs in CBDs across NSW. The lesson is we need more experimentation in using our public spaces, not to retreat back into office towers.

CBDs are a concept past their use-by date. The phrase “central business district” was coined by white, male, middle-class…

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