If you’ve passed through the CBD recently, it won’t have escaped your notice that the stretch of George Street between Railway Square and Town Hall is currently suffering from an odd case of spots. In late 2020, colourful sponges were added to disguise the rather unattracted temporary concrete roadblocks that were introduced to stop cars travelling down the once traffic-laden artery that runs through the city from Central all the way to Circular Quay. However, this polka-dot paint job was only a stop-gap solution. Now, the City of Sydney has unveiled its ultimate vision for a pedestrianised George Street, as well as details of another new pedestrianised zone of Devonshire Street between Chalmers and Elizabeth streets.
The $43.5 million development will transform some 9,000 square meters into usable public and retail space, reducing car traffic and congestion in the city centre and surrounding suburbs. George Street South will be fully pedestrianised, aside from the light rail, between Bathurst Street and Rawson Place, but additional “open space improvements” will also be added along the full length of George Street around Pitt Street, Ultimo Road, Thomas Street and Hay Street.
In addition to the granite footpaths that will replace the car lanes, new street trees, seating areas and enhanced lighting will be added, as well as numerous dining zones that local businesses can expand into. Initial works commenced in March 2021 and will be staggered over the next two years to minimise disruption to residents, commuters and businesses. The short stretch of Devonshire Street leading from Central Station into Surry Hills will also receive similar upgrades, with building works scheduled to commence from early 2022.