Impact Testimonial

Caroline Butler-Bowdon 

Name: Caroline Butler-Bowdon

Title: Executive Director, Cities Revitalisation and Place, Transport for NSW 

Organization: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Please outline your work and how our research on green space and health has been helpful in supporting your activities.

Public spaces are essential for liveability, and they provide social, economic, environmental and cultural value to communities. COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of public access to quality green and public spaces for well-being and community resilience. The NSW Government has made ambitious strategic commitments to increase green and public spaces, including through the Premier’s Priority Greener Public Spaces, which aims to increase the proportion of homes in urban areas within 10 minutes’ walk of green and public spaces by 10% by 2023. Our work in the Department of Planning and Environment’s Public Spaces Division is focused on achieving the this target through the range of exciting programs we deliver across NSW, from creating eight new and improved parks across Sydney, co-funding inclusive play spaces through the Everyone Can Play grant program with local Councils across the state, to developing the NSW Public Spaces Charter which identifies ten principles for quality public space, developed through evidence-based research and discussions with public space experts and community members. Explore this map to see some of the ways we are investing in public space across NSW.

What are your team/organisational goals over the next 3 to 5 years and how might our research on green space and health continue to be useful?

Quality green, open and public spaces are important to everyone. They are our free parks, gardens and sports fields, walkable shady streets, libraries, museums and galleries, which form the heart of our communities. Our public spaces make life more welcoming and accessible. They delight and connect people. They support our health and well-being, environmental resilience and prosperous local economies. Public spaces are all places publicly owned or of public use, accessible and enjoyable by all for free. They include our open spaces, public facilities and streets. They’re at the heart of everyday life.

The Department will continue to deliver on the Premier’s Priority by increasing both quality of, and access to, public spaces across NSW. PowerLab’s research, by Thomas Astell-Burt and Ziaoqi Feng, has added evidence to our work in the role that public green space has in supporting health and wellbeing. Over the next few years we will continue to deliver a range of projects across NSW, including through the Public Spaces Legacy Program, Alfresco Restart Package, and the Places to Love programs. We will be aiming to help bring NSW back to life post-lockdown, revitalising public spaces with increased walkability, outdoor dining, the arts and live entertainment to support economic recovery and create spaces for family and friends to reconnect. We will also be continuing to build the evidence base through the Great Public Spaces Toolkit, which helps bring the principles of the NSW Public Spaces Charter to life through a collection of free resources to support local government, state agencies, industry and the community. The Department is developing tools that anyone can use to support planning, managing and creating better and more vibrant public spaces.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

For more information about the Department’s public spaces programs please see, and to become a signatory of the NSW Public Spaces Charter please see

Please feel free to contact our team at for more information.