Circular Quay Renewal

Reviewed

Project overview

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

Key benefits

  • 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. 

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 projects@transport.nsw.gov.au 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 background

Circular Quay is the symbolic gateway to Sydney’s world-famous harbour and city, a significant transport interchange and a place with deep cultural and historical significance for all Australians. However, a combination of ageing assets, poor amenity and disjointed public spaces make it a disappointing experience for the millions of people who visit and travel through Circular Quay every year.  

In recognition of this, the NSW Government has been exploring options to renew this important public place and interchange.  

Transport for NSW have 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.  

The outcomes of the procurement are being considered to ensure that the NSW Government can achieve its objectives for Circular Quay. 

A new design for Circular Quay  

The design of the renewed Circular Quay provides an opportunity for the NSW Government to demonstrate their commitment to Connecting and Designing with Country in one of Australia’s most important and historic public spaces.

During the Early Consortia Involvement (ECI) phase of the project in 2020 and 2021, two shortlisted Participants were required to develop pre-concept designs for the Circular Quay Renewal. After an extensive evaluation process, the NSW Government endorsed a preferred pre-concept design in mid-2021.

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.

The proposed pre-concept design balances elements of city, harbour and heritage all within a First Nations framework. The architecture weaves together old and new, landscape and building.

The community will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the project from late 2022.

Project features 

  • new accessible wharves, with expanded customer waiting areas and improved views to the harbour

  • 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
  • improvements to amenities with new public toilets, ticketing facilities, signage and a new visitor information centre.

What’s happening next?  

The NSW Government has chosen a Planning and Design Partner and an announcement will be made soon. To further develop the design, community consultation to inform the statutory planning process will start from late 2022.

We will: 

  • consult the community to help prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 

  • undertake additional Planning Framework Studies

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

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.  

Get in touch 

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