Wednesday, 01 February 2017 14:32

Scorching summer calls for heat-safe planning

Grey roofs in new Western Sydney housing estate Grey roofs in new Western Sydney housing estate Adam Hollingworth

Western Sydney summers are hot, and are set to get hotter if a strategic approach to heat mitigation isn’t developed says the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC).

WSROC President, Cr Stephen Bali, said “It is no secret that Western Sydney summers are hot, but urbanisation is contributing to this heat due to what scientists call the urban heat island effect.”

“Urban surfaces such as concrete and bitumen absorb and hold heat well past the heat of the day. Other activities such as vehicle use, industrial activity and air-conditioning contribute to this heat,” said Cr Bali.

“According to the Office of Environment and Heritage, sprawling greenfield developments could see the Western Sydney region experience up to 10 additional extremely hot days by 2030[1].”

The thirty one days of January show the clear differences in temperature between Sydney CBD and Western Sydney.


Average January temperature comparison between Penrith and Observatory Hill weather stations. At Observatory Hill there were 6 days between 30 and 35, 5 days between 35 and 40, and no days over 40 degrees Celsius. The average temperature was 29.6 degrees Celsius. By contrast, Penrith had four days between 30 and 35, seven days between 35 and 40, and eight days over 40 degrees. The average temperature in Penrith for January was 33.9 degrees Celcius.

 Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

The temperature difference between these two regions at any point in time was also significant. There were four days when the city was hotter than the West (by around 0.2 to 2 oC), however Western Sydney experienced 10 days that were over 5oC hotter than Sydney – including the 13th of January when the difference in temperature was 14.3oC.

“This isn’t just about being uncomfortable. Heat is Australia’s number one natural killer, responsible for more deaths than bushfires, floods and storms.

“In Australia we have mandatory planning controls to cope with bushfires and floods, and we should have the same for extreme heat,” he said.

“We need a coordinated approach to tackling urban heat, particularly in known hot spots such as Western Sydney,” said Cr Bali.

“A number of Western Sydney councils have been working on innovative programs to tackle urban heat at the local level, and we invite government planning agencies to work with councils to see whether there is potential for these programs to be rolled out on a regional scale.

“Both Parramatta and Penrith councils have conducted aerial heat mapping of their local area in order to identify and mitigate extreme heat pockets,” he said.

“Blacktown City Council’s award winning Cool Streets program looks at how street trees can prevent heat build-up in residential areas. This includes testing the effectiveness of various tree species, as well as how their positioning can maximise the cooling effect on community spaces,” said Cr Bali.

“City of Parramatta has also launched Cool Parramatta, a summer program to assist the community manage the impacts of extreme heat. The Cool Parramatta website contains information, tips on what to do and where to go when the temperature rises,” he said.

“All of these programs are working towards keeping our cities cool and liveable, but a more comprehensive, wide scale approach is necessary to ensure our city is heat-safe well into the future,” said Cr Bali.

“Developing a comprehensive, city-wide heat strategy should absolute priority given the level of growth forecasted for Sydney over the next twenty years.

“Such a strategy might include increased urban tree cover, planning controls for facades and rooftops on new buildings, or intelligent use of water for cooling urban areas,” he said.

“WSROC invites all levels of government to work together with the Greater Sydney Commission to address heat at the regional level to keep our cities liveable well into the future,” said Cr Bali.


Media contact: Kelly-Anne Gee, 02 9671 4333 (ext. 118), 0425 871 868 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    

[1] NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage. Urban Heat. Available from:

Last modified on Monday, 08 January 2018 16:23