The Property Council of Australia wants to lure people back to struggling CBDs with an injection of green, as well as events.

In a new report compiled by EY Sweeney, the industry body for the property sector has suggested green rooftops, pocket parks and dog-friendly zones to attract workers and visitors back into the city centre.

Could a greener Sydney entice the crowds back to the CBD of Sydney? Certainly a new report released by the Property Council of Australia thinks so. A quick Google search shows city greening ideas have been around for a long time. Pictured is one such concept featured at a past event by Sydney Living Museums.

The idea is to entice people with the psychological benefits of vegetation, including improved mood and concentration, while getting other sustainability benefits such as carbon drawdown, improved biodiversity, natural shading and cooling and reduced stormwater runoff.

The green revolution has other benefits that can be harnessed for CBD revival. For example, creating jobs by embarking on a largescale building renovation program to improve the sustainability of the existing building stock. This could include underperforming mid-tier budlings.

The report also flags Brisbane City Council’s Buildings that Breathe design guide that encourages developers to take advantage of Brisbane’s temperate climate with naturally ventilated spaces and ample greenery.

The City of Melbourne identified more than 200 lanes in the central city, “making up an area of almost nine hectares – bigger than Flagstaff Gardens”. its Green Your Laneway program is an interactive map that ‘shows which laneways that could go green, based on the amount of sunlight they receive, exposure to wind and physical characteristics”. A voting process resulted in four laneways: Katherine Place, Meyers Place, Guildford Lane and Coromandel Place transformed. “These green laneways are now complete. The plants are still young, but greenery is beginning to take over. Enjoy a coffee from one of the many cafes that line these laneways – with a reusable cup, of course! For more visit Participate Melbourne – Green Your Laneway” a City of Melbourne website says.

It’s highlighted as an attractive building type at a time when people value fresh air, and with the added advantage of lightening the mechanical heating and cooling load. 

Council design guides is one example of a council intervention to improve the sustainability of the city centres. The report has other suggestion for governments and property owners, such as Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo’s “permit to vegetalise” scheme to allow people to turn bases of trees into garden beds and install planters in public spaces.

“Greening up” is one of several suggestions to attract people to city centres, which are already showing signs of revival. Just this week, Charterhall and Abacus lodged plans for an $85 million extension to 201 Elizabeth Street in the Sydney CBD, providing 10,000 sq m of additional office floor space.

12 Creek Street, Brisbane, designed by BVN. “The plan and section was designed to enable a new ‘vertical village’ and to support Brisbane City Council’s design Plan, New World City Design Guide – Buildings that Breathe’.” Image shows the Arrival Plaza, 12 levels of “boutique spaces, linked by an interconnecting stair to create workplace neighbourhoods with characteristics and outlook that take full advantage of the unique qualities and identity of the site.”

Free public transport was floated to attract people into the office on the least popular days, Monday and Friday (Thursday emerged as the most popular day, according to the survey that the report’s recommendations were based on, with 3.3 days the average days worked onsite).

Helping people to get around through healthier, faster and smarter means, such as cycling, walking, e-bikes or scooters, is also on the agenda. This includes removing regulatory barriers to shared mobility schemes.

The goal is to avoid a spike in car usage as seen in South East Asian countries after SARS.

Making better use of space at all times of day is also recommended in the report. This includes activating streets and precincts with new late night shopping days or night-time markets, even on weeknights.

The report also suggests “honey trap” events to bring people in for a one-off visit, such as “big name chefs, live music venues, a bevy of buskers, monthly growers’ markets”.

Pop up stores and restaurants are another way to add vibrancy, as are impermanent rent free spaces for people looking to try a unique business concept.

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