It seems there are big plans on the horizon for western Sydney, and many of them have a decidedly green tinge.

Following the recent launch of ‘Better Placed” by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE), the NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet says that there are many more things planned for the state, and most of them will be all about increasing sustainability in our built environment.

“We have a bigger green agenda,” says Poulet.

We need to celebrate what we have,” he says, adding that the idea of his department is to create a continuous green space or grid across western Sydney.

“We need to reduce the heat island effect, increase the canopy – make Sydney more about green corridors, so people can move around-we need to make Sydney a city of green spaces,” he says.

But it’s not just about the western half of the city or the issue of panting more trees, but rather how Sydney residents “relate to outdoor spaces”, says Poulet.

 “It’s also how we connect to the local environment,” he says.

“The work we are doing is only part of the bigger picture.”

And one part of this ‘bigger picture’ is a pilot program called ‘Green Places’- a green grid for western Sydney whereby the city’s western edge gets protected by a green belt that is connected not just to each external green area, but will also be designed to provide a much more intimate interaction to the wider community.

“It’s an addition to the ‘Better Placed’ policy,” says Poulet.

“Design is a collaborative process – it’s understanding that when you design things better, they will also look better.”

“I’d like to democratise design,” says Poulet, adding that, “it’s been in the hands of the elites for way too long.”

“That’s why we have made a conscious effort to write our policies like ‘Better Placed’ in plain English.”

“It’s all about empowerment and connectivity for the people of NSW,” he says.

“It’s also about enriching the outcome.”

Getting back to western Sydney, Poulet says that all these new policies and manifestoes are not only about sustainability, but also about getting design back to a point where it “helps people become more connected to their local communities”.

This of course echoes others in the design profession who have pointed out the disconnect between the design world and the ‘real world’, not just in NSW, but across the nation.

As Jennifer Cunich, the CEO of the Australian Institute of Architects says: “we believe that good design yields a dividend for all stakeholders, that is returned not just in the immediate term, but over the lifetime of a well-designed and delivered built environment”.