Ethos Urban has been working closely with Western Sydney Lakes (formerly known as Penrith Lakes Development Corporation) to realise a vision for almost 2,000ha of land north of Penrith CBD.

Western Sydney Lakes has a rich history where for thousands of years, the Nepean River and surrounding waterways have been an important place for the Darug people. It was later used as a European settlement, and in more modern times for agriculture and quarrying, as a venue for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, a community meeting space, and a sporting venue for rowing, kayaking and regattas. In the 1980s, Penrith Lakes Development Corporation signed a deed of agreement with the NSW Government which, among other things, enabled quarry operations on site and the construction of flood mitigation weirs together with the quarry rehabilitation which is now largely completed, transforming the site into a major parkland and lake system with future urban areas. 

Ethos Urbans design team has crafted an Urban Design Framework which is the first step in understanding the future possibilities for the site. It sets out a potential natural and urban structure that will enable changes to occur over time to benefit the wider community of Western Sydney. The framework outlines the existing conditions, examines opportunities and constraints and then recommends a design approach through a set of principles and a series of key moves.

A compelling planning and design narrative has been prepared for the site celebrating a refreshing climate for people to play, work, relax and visit set against a panoramic backdrop of the World Heritage Blue Mountains. The precinct has the potential to offer a variety of destinations, delivering regionally significant open spaces that are supported and enhanced by sustainable mixed use urban development (excluding residential), across an area the same size as Bondi to Maroubra.

To inform the framework, Ethos Urban utilised the skills of its multi-disciplinary team across urban design, engagement and strategic planning to deliver an integrated strategy and targeted advice for the future redevelopment opportunity for Penrith Lakes. Ethos Urban worked closely with Mark Gerada who prepared illustrations highlighting key destinations and activities within the site. This work was able to capture the vision and composition of significant freshwater lakes against the backdrop of the World Heritage Blue Mountains. The framework was also supported by collaborations with a team of sub-consultants including civil engineering, geotech, heritage, landscape, bushfire, sustainability, designing with country, transport and flooding.

Following world class rehabilitation of the site and since undertaking this work, Western Sydney Lakes along with the NSW Government has successfully activated Penrith Beach over the 2023-24 summer showcasing the beginnings of a broader vision put forward across the site. 

Key features of the Urban Design Framework include: 

  • Engaging with a multi-disciplinary team and undertaking an open ended design enquiry process.
  • Acknowledge the role we have as Urban Designers to Design with Country.
  • Embedding approaches to kickstart a healthy ecology and prioritise landscape.
  • Offering the community equitable access to water and recreational opportunities.
  • Integrating a mix of tourism and employment uses to provide a complementary waterfront for Penrith.

Team

Chee Heng Tan

Chee Heng Tan

Principal | Sydney

Cheyenne Mistry

Cheyenne Mistry

Urbanist | Sydney

Craig Allchin

Craig Allchin

Director | Sydney

Daniel Pantelas

Daniel Pantelas

Associate Director | Sydney

David Attwood

David Attwood

Associate Director | Sydney

Ivan Ip

Ivan Ip

Director | Sydney

Ross Hornsey

Ross Hornsey

Director and National Lead (Social Strategy and Engagement) | Sydney