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More of Sydney’s CBD to go pedestrian-only from next week

The City of Sydney has fast-tracked plans to turn more of George Street into a pedestrian-only boulevard, a move that will substantially change the heart of Australia’s largest city.

From Monday, the following changes will be made to the city.

  • The extension of the existing southbound lane closure of George Street between Bathurst and Campbell streets to Rawson Place
  • Closure of the northbound lanes of George Street between Ultimo Road and Bathurst Street
  • Closure of Campbell Street at George Street, making it two-way between George and Pitt streets
  • Closure of the westbound lane of Hay Street, between George and Sussex streets
  • Ultimo Road will be one-way westbound, between George and Quay streets.

These are earmarked as ‘temporary’ changes, in place until the end of the year. However, the City of Sydney will propose to make these changes permanent, with the exhibition of plans and a call for community feedback due in the coming months.

“The people-friendly main street will create new spaces for businesses to operate, attract visitors back into the city centre and ensure everyone can move around comfortably, while maintaining physical distancing,” the announcement reads.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore called the plans “a reimagining of public space and streets to prioritise people,” following on from the COVID-19 restrictions.

“As we cautiously return to the city while seeking to maintain physical distancing, wider footpaths and more space for people will be critical – to open up new opportunities for businesses, and crucially, to provide places for people to gather and get around safely,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Areas around Haymarket, the Rocks and the city centre have been significantly impacted by the loss of workers, tourists and international students.

“Since the start of this pandemic, there has been an estimated 90 per cent drop in the number of people on central Sydney streets.

“We need to rebuild confidence and promote the return of activity in the city, and to do that we need to prioritise access for people to safely move around – so that we can remain vigilant and prevent a second wave of the virus.”

The Sydney Business Chamber’s executive director Katherine O’Regan feels the plan will “greatly encourage more people to come to the city, and come safely, providing that much needed boost to businesses in this area, extending and opening up pedestrian access along George Street through to Haymarket,” Ms O’Regan said.

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