NOTE: Image taken prior to social distancing restrictions

Communities are encouraged to come up with ideas to transform local streets into shared public spaces as part of a program to increase places for people to safely walk, cycle or exercise.

NSW Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said the new $15 million Streets as Shared Spaces fund will help councils implement pilot measures to increase public space and allow for easier social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Simple changes like widening footpaths or closing a street to vehicles on weekends will make our community healthier, more walkable and easier to maintain social distancing,” Mr Singh said.

“I’d encourage everyone in the community to think creatively about what small changes we can make that will make our lives better.”

Councils will be able to apply for grants of up to $100,000 for short-term, quick response projects, such as widening footpaths and temporary cycle lanes, and up to $1 million for longer-term projects, such as changes to road alignments and widths and trialling lower speed limits.

Community input will be essential in helping councils choose projects that will benefit their communities. An online social pinpoint map allows users to click directly on a specific area and leave their comments and ideas.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the program will help councils deliver simple short-term projects to provide fast relief and longer-term strategic projects that will help communities transition out of the pandemic.

“These initiatives will make it easier to maintain social distancing, create jobs for the construction industry and encourage economic activity back into our streets,” Mr Stokes said.

“If the pilot projects gain widespread community support, we’ll look to make them permanent so more people can enjoy the outdoors once this pandemic is over.”

Councils can apply for Streets as Shared Spaces grants until June 30, 2020.

For more, visit: https://www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/streets.