A leading urban planner has warned that a western Sydney suburb will become “the hottest place on earth” in just six months.
Sam Austin, who is currently NSW’s Young Planner of the Year, said residents of Marsden Park, some 50km northwest of the central business district, will soon face sweltering temperatures of up to 50C over the coming summer. .
Mr Austin said several poor design decisions made while developments were being built in western Sydney meant that residents were now living on dangerous urban heat islands where temperatures were 10 to 12 degrees higher than in the rest of Sydney. .
Suburbs like Marsden Park have helped create urban heat islands that exceed 50°C. What makes it so hot? Casas’, he explained to her in a video posted on social networks.
“Specifically, these new, identical houses that are being built all over the country. Most of these houses have black roofs and a small yard with no room for a tree.
Road shoulders are too small for a mature tree to grow. The roads are black asphalt, and this goes on and on for miles.
“These factors combined create areas that can be more than 12°C hotter than neighboring suburbs. That’s right, your roof color can turn up the heat by 12 degrees.
Temperatures soared in Jordan Springs, near Penrith, during the summer of 2019-2020. Image: Climate Council
An urban planner has warned that a western Sydney suburb is about to “become the hottest place on earth” in just six months (pictured: construction at Marsden Park)
Austin ended his video with a stern warning to residents of western Sydney.
“Western Sydney was already the warmest place in the world three years ago,” he said.
It will happen again.
Mr Austin is referring to when Penrith, some 55km west of the CBD, hit a record 48.9°C on 4th January 2020 and was officially the hottest place on earth.
The mind-blowing temperature was recorded as the state was ravaged by bushfires, with the Sydney outback hitting 35°C on the same day.
Canberra also reached all-time highs, reaching 43°C on the January afternoon.
More than three years later, extreme heat remains a major concern for Sydney’s western residents, who already experience temperatures 10-12 degrees warmer than those in the eastern suburbs.
Dozens of concerned Sydneysiders shared their concerns, with one asking, “Why are there no trees?”
“Because developers are too stingy for landscaping and allowing green space, less green space more houses,” another replied.
Penrith, in western Sydney, was the hottest place in the world on January 4, 2020, reaching 48.9°C.
Penrith residents are seen cooling off in the Nepean River after temperatures topped 40C in January 2020, during a season of terror bushfires
‘I used to take my son to a GP in Marsden park. The summer, about three years ago, I was driving it home from the GP and the car’s temperature gauge was 50°C,” said one.
‘Gregory Hills in (south-west) Sydney is the same. The new development in Menangle has white roofs. But no additional trees have been planted yet,” wrote another.
Austin said the combination of black roofs, miles of tarmac and a lack of greenery had created the urban ‘heat islands’ in western Sydney.
He said news.com.au that while trees and grass can absorb the sun’s heat, artificial turf and “non-permeable surfaces like concrete and roofs…spit it out.”
The NSW Young Planner of the Year said black roofs were purely a ‘decorative choice’ but were in fact at least six degrees hotter than a white roof.
The urban planner said the lack of vegetation meant there was less water in the atmosphere, which in turn hampered efforts to cool the concrete environment.
More than three years later, extreme heat remains a major concern for residents of Sydney’s west, already experiencing temperatures eight to 10 degrees warmer than those in the eastern suburbs (pictured: construction in Marsden Park)
Austin said the combination of black roofs, miles of asphalt and a lack of greenery had created dangerous “urban heat islands” in western Sydney (pictured: Marsden Park)
Mr Austin said western Sydney was traditionally home to more socio-economically disadvantaged residents than those in other parts of the city.
He said these ‘vulnerable’ people would face higher energy bills as a result of trying to stay cool during the upcoming summer months.
Construction of identical developments to Marsden Park began after the previous Liberal government announced specific ‘liberation urban areas’.
The sprawling developments in Sydney’s Greater West have apparently offered the NSW government a short-term solution to its growing housing crisis.
Austin said there were several low-cost solutions to moderate conditions in the ‘heat islands,’ including more greenery, white roofs instead of black, and ensuring there was enough space to plant mature trees that could provide shade.
A sobering model by the Australia Institute in 2022 revealed that western Sydney is on track to experience five times as many days of extreme heat a year if something is not done to curb emissions.
The report found that, in a high emissions scenario, Penrith could face up to 58 days or two months of extreme heat in a year.