The Green Street program is a state government funded initiative aimed at improving community well-being by greening and cooling streets through street tree plantings and front garden embellishment. The pilot project and statewide program was developed by TURF in collaboration with Chris Johnson (former NSW Government Architect) and Housing NSW.
Housing NSW pledged to deliver over $30 million (over three years) in upgrades to public streets and residential frontages of well-known social housing estates that lacked community ownership, character, natural shade and amenity. The pilot program began in Chestnut Crescent, Bidwill. It was ambitious, yet successful in addressing issues like youth unemployment, widespread in lower socio-economic areas. The program offered local youths opportunities through employment; with jobs such as mowing, cleaning and planting street trees they would gain invaluable skills, earn income and professional qualifications. At a higher level, local communities would learn to appreciate their surroundings and in hope, tackle some issues of vandalism and crime.
Matt Coggan of Turf explains, “The project focused on areas of public housing that were in particular need of street trees to shade the roads and footpaths, reducing the heat island effect and creating a more liveable environment for residents…Retrofitting a street with advanced trees is not ideal. These areas are often in-land where conditions are hotter and therefore harsher. Vandalism is also a huge consideration – previous plantings have been ripped out after just a few months in some of these areas.”
Since 2009, the Green Street Program has been implemented across 150km of main streets across NSW, involving 40 different local councils and planting over 150,000 large street trees. Shrubs and small trees have also been offered to residents for their front gardens to further improve the amenity and continuity of these streets.
Over a short number of years, the program has seen a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, created shady streets and improved the visual amenity and quality of the suburban social housing environment.