In collaboration with Sprout Landscape Architecture, JOC Consulting was recently commissioned by Penrith City Council to develop a ‘palette’ of urban interventions for an aged retail strip at Sydney Street, St Marys.

The project formed part of a pilot program, Local Charm: placemaking with neighbourhood shopping centres. The pilot aims to refresh and reinvigorate small centres with public art and outdoor upgrades of Council-owned public spaces. It also leverages local knowledge and stakeholder participation to improve the liveability of the neighbourhood.

We also developed a place character statement for Sydney Street (see below) that helped inform the delivery and recommendations:

“Along with catering to the everyday needs of the local community, the Sydney Street Shops are serviced by makers, artists and professionals. The diverse offer, across 9 businesses, includes a pet grooming salon, uniform manufacturer and affordable tailor, hairdresser and medical practice. It’s visible on first encounter that these businesses take pride in their products and services and are sustained by both regular and high traffic clientele. These businesses create a point of difference to the ‘neighbourhood centre’ by attracting customers from a regional scale, while also catering to local convenience and daily goods.

Shop top housing brings a unique quality to the small neighbourhood centre with increased passive surveillance to public space. In its existing state, the Street consists of a wide (8m) footpath, 2 large octagonal plastic planters (Council owned) which double as seating, litter bins, outdoor dining, business a-frame sandwich boards and a post office box. The space is cleaned regularly by Council with minimal vandalism or graffiti on or around the shops. At night, a lack of street lighting and evening trade limits activation, reducing the welcoming and friendly appearance of the Sydney Street Shops.

Local businesses are also actively involved with improving and caring for the Sydney Street Shops. In some cases, watering the planters, repainting shop fronts or creating ideas for community art projects, showing a level of pride and commitment to the area.

In recent years, the increase of medium density development around St Marys has contributed to a higher patronage of the Sydney Street Shops. There is however, a perception that the Sydney Street Shops are under-promoted, providing an opportunity to begin marketing the diverse retail and service offer to a larger audience catchment.”

IMG_4284ABOVE: Sydney Street Shops