Design cities for women, says Sydney's chief planner Lucy TurnbullPerils of Pitt Street: Lucy Turnbull says it's important that cities work for women. Photo: Andrew Meares

Design cities for women, says Sydney's chief planner Lucy Turnbull

Anne Davies 

There is a particular spot in Pitt Street that has claimed the heel on Lucy Turnbull’s shoes – twice.

The chairwoman of the Greater Sydney Commission, wife of the Prime Minister and diminutive wearer of high heels has revealed the perils she and other women face each day in Sydney as they go about their business in the CBD.

“It’s really important that cities work for women,” she told a group of women executives at an International Women’s Day function held at property group Dexus on Thursday night.

“First and foremost they need to be safe.”

And by that she means safe on a number of levels. As well as lighting and design to avoid cities becoming unsafe for women, they need ramps and access so they can move easily with prams and small children. And then there are the pavement hazards.

“There is a little bit of Pitt Street that has claimed the same heel twice,” she told the gathering to murmurs of agreement.

“It’s an issue if you have to go hobbling round the city for a day. Women would design pavements differently.”

Women crossing the street. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto Women would design footpaths differently, says Mrs Turnbull. File photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As for being pram friendly, Mrs Turnbull, an active grandmother, rated Sydney as poor.

“Sometimes I feel I should have done more weight training to push a stroller round Sydney,” she said.

In her new role as chairwoman of the overarching planning body, Ms Turnbull, a former lord mayor of Sydney will be in a unique position to shape Sydney.

The commission will be responsible for co-ordinating planning over broader regions and bringing councils together to deal with issues such as transport and land use.

One of Mrs Turnbull’s goals is to make Sydney “a 30-minute city” where most transactions and trips can be accomplished in just half an hour, rather than having to face long commutes.

This involved designing a city where people worked closer to home with fast transport links between centres, she said.

“I think we need to look carefully at land-use planning, now that we no longer have heavy industry in Sydney.

“The sharp zonings may not have the same relevance that they had in the past,” she said.

More flexible zonings to allow mixed land use would be a significant departure for Sydney, which has tended to have jobs, even white-collar work, located in business parks.

She said a 30-minute city would particularly empower women to take part in the economic and social life of the city by making it easier to combine work and family duties.

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