City Transformation

City Transformation

New artworks for city centre

Three new artworks will transform the city centre as part of the City of Sydney’s $220 million contribution to the State Government’s light rail project.

The artworks are the first 3 projects from the City’s $9.3 million City Centre Public Art Plan, which was developed in collaboration with Sydney-based international curator Barbara Flynn.

The works were chosen unanimously by Ms Flynn, the City’s Design Director, Bridget Smyth, and 4 members of the City’s Public Art Advisory Panel.

The light rail project will transform the city with the pedestrianisation of George Street and will include new paving, lighting, trees and street furniture.

The City will now begin a design development process for all 3 works, including consultation with local businesses and residents.

The works are expected to be installed from 2017 and when complete, they will become part of the City’s growing public art collection, City Art.


Junya Ishigami, Cloud Arch (detail), 2014. Painted steel. © Junya Ishigami.


City centre public artSydney Your Say: public art discussion forum

Light rail gets the green light

The Minister for Planning and Environment has approved the CBD and South East Light Rail project. You can view project assessment reports at the NSW Planning and Environment's website.

Approval for the $1.6 billion extension to Sydney’s light rail network has been welcomed by the City of Sydney.

The major infrastructure project is being delivered in partnership with the City and the NSW Government.

The City is contributing $220 million towards the light rail project, including funding the transformation of George Street and the improvement of surrounding laneways.

Last year the City also signed an agreement with Transport for NSW setting out the high standards the new light rail project will have to meet throughout the local government area.

The agreement set out a range of binding conditions, including high design standards for paving, lighting, trees, smartpoles, street furniture and light rail stops and a new park on the Olivia Gardens site. 

The new CBD and South East Light Rail will travel from Circular Quay along George Street to Central Station and on to Moore Park, then to Kingsford via Anzac Parade and Randwick via Alison Road and High Street.

The NSW Government expects light rail to be operating in 2019/20.

Community forums 

Transport for NSW has set up 3 local forums along the light rail route to keep the community up to date and informed about the project.

The community forums cover Randwick, Kingsford and Kensington; Surry Hills and Moore Park; and the CBD.


Sydney Light Rail Community forums

George Street transforms

The City welcomed the NSW Government's announcement that work will soon begin on a $1.6 billion light rail line, connecting Randwick with Circular Quay.

George Street will undergo one of the biggest transformations ever seen in Sydney when the light rail line is built. The City has committed $220 million to the project and will continue to work closely with the State Government.

Modern trams will run every 2 minutes during peak hour and make connections to busses and trains. Thousands of people will be moved every hour without the noise and delays of current transport infrastructure.

The main George Street strip will be pedestrianised between Hunter and Bathurst streets and footpaths will be widened. Existing driveway access for buildings will be maintained while roads travelling east and west will remain open to vehicles. Delivery vehicles and taxis servicing the Hilton will travel along George Street as normal.

Greater space for pedestrians along the street will mean cafés and restaurants can introduce outdoor dining areas.

The revamped George Street will become an easy way to travel between key attractions from The Rocks and Circular Quay to the city centre's retail heart and down to Chinatown.

Light rail will also link hotels to the renewed Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre when it's completed.

George Street concept design

The concept design, available for download below, sets out the principles intended to guide the new George Street plan. It includes the City's preferred options for street trees and furniture, paving, public art, lighting and signage. The concept design was adpoted by Council in September 2013.

Customs House hosted a temporary exhibition display 'Next Stop: 21st Century George Street', from 4 April to 3 May 2013.

The exhibition featured large display walls, image panels, banners, models and digital displays to showcase the City's vision for George Street. The feedback gathered from the exhibition was reported to Council and a consultation report was provided to Transport for NSW in September 2013.

Transport for NSW details more information on current works being undertaken, including surveying and investigative works.


Kristina Kalnins
02 9265 9333


Sydney Your Say: George StreetSydney Light Rail: Current works

City Transformation and light rail

City Transformation aims to unlock the city centre’s potential so it becomes a place people will want to go – a place that welcomes everybody.

The initiative comprises a combination of programs and civic improvements (capital works) that will help central Sydney become more liveable, vibrant and connected.

Crucial to this is the introduction of light rail in George Street, which will dramatically improve city amenity, particularly in and around George Street.

Benefits of City Transformation

Extensive community consultation on our vision for George Street to support the NSW Government's plans for light rail higlighted a firm desire for a well-designed, attractive plaza lined with trees, street furniture and public art.

A report on the plans for George Street received feedback from 645 people, with 56% of comments positive, 26% offering suggestions and 18% were negative.

Frequent themes that emerged from the consultation included:

  • high level support to remove buses and install light rail to improve pedestrian access
  • excitement about George Street becoming a new destination to meet, socialise, dine and shop
  • support for a visually attractive 'wire-free' light rail system in pedestrian areas
  • using trees and public art to create a sense of space along what will become Sydney's major boulevard.

The George Street Concept Design Plan, available for download below, details more about the vision for a revitalised George Street.

The City is working with Transport for NSW to finalise the project design to ensure it delivers the best possible outcome.

City Transformation projects

Light rail

Transport for NSW's Environmental Impact Statement for the Sydney CBD and South-East Light Rail Project was on public exhibition until 16 December 2013 and the public was invited to make submissions. Submissions closed on 31 December 2013. The City's response to the EIS is available for download below.

The NSW Government has determined light rail is a viable transport option for Sydney. In reaching its decision, the NSW Government reviewed the growing pressures on Sydney including population growth, the impacts of congestion on the City’s economy and liveability, as well as improvements needed in the local area’s public transport network. You may notice some investigative works taking place around the proposed light rail route, such as surveying and paint marking activities.

Public art

Public art commissioned under the City Centre Public Art Plan, available for download below, will play a major role in the transformation. The City has announced the first 3 projects under the $9.3 million plan, which was developed in collaboration with renowned international curator, Barbara Flynn. The works are expected to be installed from 2017, in line with the implementation of the light rail line on George Street. When complete, the works will become part of the City’s growing public art collection, City Art.

Laneway revitalisation

We are also working to attract small businesses to further activate our streets and lanes through continuing our program of laneway upgrades and revitalisation. We have already been successful in advocating for changes to licensing laws to allow small bars and restaurants that are reshaping central Sydney’s nightlife. City Transformation also includes the future delivery of major public squares at Town Hall, Railway Square and Circular Quay.

Revitalising George Street

See how light rail and space for people will revitalise George Street in Sydney as a great place to visit, live, work and do business.

A 1906 bird's-eye view of George Street

If we could have light rail then, we can have it now.

Last updated: Tuesday, 29 July 2014