“For example, you could have a great park that’s barely used, or a small corner store that’s out of control,” Hartley said.
While Lane Cove scored 10/10 for its public areas, its food (5), education (4.6), personal care (4.4) and community services (4.2) were marked down.
Surry Hills scored highly in all categories except personal care (6.3) and healthcare (7.1).
Penrith scored highly in every category except hospitality and public spaces, while Parramatta performed well in healthcare, hospitality and community services.
“Lane Cove is very leafy and has great public spaces, but it’s difficult to easily access the amenities you need to support your daily life locally, compared to some out-of-town centers,” Hartley said.
Lane Cove’s mediocre score for urban living contrasts with the 2021 Australian Liveability Census which found the suburb rated highly by residents for sustainable urban design, but rated lower for ease of driving and ease of parking.
Lane Cove Council last week published its annual client survey showing high levels of satisfaction with events, library, bushland and the Aquatic Centre, but some dissatisfaction with development and traffic management.
Matt Levinson, the Sydney Committee’s Director of Corporate Affairs, said it came as no surprise that Western Sydney suburbs, such as Parramatta, Penrith and Bankstown, rank highly for their cultural diversity and urban energy.
“Sydney’s has relied too long on this simple rubric that east and north had most of the good stuff and the west struggled universally — that’s not true now, if it ever was,” he said.
Levinson said it was important to move beyond simple measures of economic productivity or transportation “and think more deeply about community cohesion, cultural life, public health and a stack of other important factors that help us understand why neighborhoods are good to work”.
Cameron Trevor’s home in North Parramatta is a 10-minute walk from his workplace in the Parramatta CBD, as well as restaurants and bars.
“Being close to work and taking the commute away from work has made a huge lifestyle difference for us,” he said.
Parramatta’s good transport links to the rest of Sydney and the promise of a new aquatic center and Powerhouse Museum were also factors behind the decision of Trevor, 33, an insurance manager, and his wife Lauren to move to the area with their young daughter .
David Borger, Executive Director of Business Western Sydney, said people who form a picture of Western Sydney based on the 6pm news are the only ones who might be surprised by Parramatta, Penrith and Bankstown “coming out of the park “.
“I live in Parramatta and am lucky enough to have the option to walk or bike to work, buy groceries, go to the Riverside Theaters to see a show or have dinner with my family and friends in our restaurants in Church Street and Parramatta Square,” he said. “These things are not viable without density.”
But the findings came as a surprise to Lane Cove resident Thomas Shanahan, who doubted there was a better Sydney suburb in which to raise a family.
The new shopping and restaurant precinct The Canopy, suburban parks and proximity to the harbor and CBD made Lane Cove a “really desirable area,” he said.
Shanahan said the suburb was “fairly prosperous” when it came to schools, medical services and public transportation.
“We have it pretty good here,” he said. “I don’t think I would want anything like a Westfield in Lane Cove.”
Shanahan also said that Lane Cove’s cultural life and range of recreational activities such as yachting, sailing and kayaking were “little hidden gems”.
“We’re renting because I haven’t won the lottery yet,” he said. “But we hope to make Lane Cove our permanent home soon because we love it so much.”
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights of the day. Register here.