Circular Quay Renewal


Project overview

Circular Quay is one of Australia’s most visited destinations and a critical transport interchange in the heart of Sydney, with millions of public and active transport trips to and from the area.

Circular Quay Renewal is part of the NSW Government’s vision to revitalise the harbour as a major driver of Sydney’s economy; a stage for its premier events; an enhanced transport hub; and an outstanding environment and experience worthy of Australia’s greatest waterfront.

Key benefits

A renewed Circular Quay will support the needs of a diverse community. This includes: 

  • Transforming the experience of being at Circular Quay with new viewing platforms on the Cahill Expressway, celebrating Sydney’s postcard views 

  • Creating a modern and accessible transport interchange with new ferry wharves and an upgraded train station 

  • Bringing Circular Quay’s retail, dining, arts and cultural offering to life 

  • Delivering a world-class visitor and customer experience, that will be even more sought after on the international tourist map. 

  • Connecting to Country in the heart of the harbour.  

The NSW Government acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Warrane/Sydney Cove, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pays its respect to Elders, past and present, and recognises and celebrates the diversity of Aboriginal peoples and their ongoing cultures and connections to the lands and waters of NSW.

For the latest update on Circular Quay Renewal, download the newsletter here (PDF, 370.99 KB) and email to register your details to receive updates to your inbox.

Circular Quay hosts some of Australia’s biggest public events, including Vivid Sydney and the New Year’s Eve fireworks which are watched by over one billion people globally and injects $130 million into the NSW economy. 

The renewal of Circular Quay will create a more dynamic space for visitors and locals to enjoy new places to eat, drink and shop as well as delivering new wharves and an upgraded train station to reaffirm it as a key transport hub for Sydney.

We’re also creating one of the world’s most spectacular publicly accessible viewing platforms by repurposing one lane of the Cahill Expressway, with new landscaping including native planting and places to eat and drink and take in the view, it really will make Circular Quay a destination of choice.

Project features

  • existing wharves will be replaced with accessible wharves including Wharf 1. Waiting areas will be expanded and views to the harbour will be improved.

  • an upgraded Circular Quay station, with widened entrances, new lifts and escalators to the platforms
  • improved retail experience with new shops, places to eat, and experiences to encourage activity during the day and night
  • an expanded pedestrian walkway on the Cahill Expressway to create an unrivalled public space to enjoy the spectacular views and provide new and immersive cultural experiences 
  • a redesigned First Fleet Park with grassed areas, native landscaping, water play and space for ceremony and events
  • a new pavilion adjacent to First Fleet Park to provide space for a variety of uses including visitor and cultural experiences, information, education and performance
  • a widened promenade to 20 metres with more seating, shade and dedicated spaces for buskers
  • new viewing platforms to the east and west of the station, providing improved access to the Cahill Walk.
  • improvements to amenities with new public toilets, ticketing facilities, signage and a new visitor information centre.

What’s happening now?  

Before Circular Quay becomes a better place for the local community, visitors and businesses, the planning controls for the area need updating.  

The NSW Government has chosen CQC Partners as the Planning and Design Partner to work alongside Transport for NSW to further develop the design and inform the statutory planning process. CQC is a consortium that includes the companies Capella Capital, Lendlease Construction and BESIXWatpac. Working with award-winning Australian and international designers and First Nations advisors, the plans have a strong cultural connection with Circular Quay’s rich history and heritage.

Next steps: 

  • community consultation will help prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 

  • undertake additional Planning Framework Studies

  • carry out site investigations to collect more information on the area. 

The project team was at the Circular Quay between 8 - 20 January 2023. We thank you for visiting us and providing you feedback on the project. The community will also have opportunities to provide formal feedback on the project later in 2023.    

For more information about the State’s statutory planning process please visit the Department of Planning and Environment webpage.

Project background - a new design for Circular Quay  

Transport for NSW conducted a design-driven process to seek industry proposals for how Circular Quay could be a better place. This process resulted in two consortia being shortlisted to develop early design proposals for the renewal of Circular Quay.    

This design had to meet the heritage, technical and transport challenges as well as showcase a simple, elegant, and uncluttered look which prioritises people and public spaces. 

After an extensive evaluation process, the NSW Government endorsed a preferred pre-concept design in 2021. The chosen pre-concept design balanced elements of city, harbour and heritage all within a First Nations framework.  

In 2022 funding was received for the next phase of the project and the NSW Government selected CQC Partners, a consortium that includes companies Capella Capital, Lendlease Construction and BESIX Watpac, as the Planning and Design Partner to work alongside Transport for NSW for the Circular Quay Renewal project.  

The Circular Quay Renewal pre-concept design has been developed by CQC’s design team including the Australian and International firms Tzannes, ASPECT Studios and  WestonWilliamson+Partners.  The design team includes a comprehensive First Nations team of advisors comprising of Michael Mossman, Alison Page, Chels Marshall and Yerrabingin.   

Visiting Circular Quay will offer a chance to connect with Country in the heart of the harbour. Connections to Country will be seen through the architecture, landscape, information, arts and cultural programming, creating an inclusive and memorable place where everyone is welcome. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage and history will also be preserved. 

The community will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the project from early 2023.   

What we have heard from the community 

To help plan for Circular Quay’s future, the NSW Government has been listening to the community and stakeholders over the past couple of years about their experiences and aspirations for Circular Quay. This feedback helped develop the Vision and Design Principles for the project.   

In 2020, the NSW Government asked the community to share their ideas for Circular Quay to help inform the development of early designs.   

We heard that Circular Quay is a much-loved place and people value its spectacular views, harbour-side location and heritage. There was support for the area to be renewed with a desire for better public spaces, affordable and quality places to eat and improved facilities. The Cahill Expressway also attracted a lot of interest with suggestions ranging from demolition to repurposing it for public space. 

The NSW Government consulted with Aboriginal stakeholders in late 2020 and early 2021 to understand the importance of Warrane/Sydney Cove. We heard that Warrane is a significant place for past, present and future Aboriginal people and should be celebrated in the new design. 

Creating new Sydney destinations

The NSW Government is shaping NSW cities, centres and communities for generations to come by revitalising major transport interchanges. We’re thinking beyond the infrastructure and service requirements and focusing on what transport enables. The NSW Government is in a unique position to use its infrastructure to transform these key interchanges into new Sydney destinations.  

Circular Quay Renewal, along with Transport for NSW’s other urban renewal projects Central Precinct Renewal Program and Redfern North Eveleigh Precinct Renewal, will shape the future of Sydney. 

We’re working with the people of NSW to ensure these new Sydney destinations reflect the uniqueness of each iconic location and community.  

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