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Healthy City Design Can Inspire Physical Activity & Reduce Obesity



Planners Hope to Reduce Rising Obesity Levels with New Urban Design Policy

The Heart Foundation, in conjunction with the Planning Institute of Australia, MRA, Landcorp and other industry partners, has today released an innovative new tool for urban planners, outlining crucial community design factors that will help inspire a more healthy and active lifestyle in the 63% of West Australians that are currently overweight or obese (ABS, 2012).

Healthy Active by Design is a tool to inform the design of communities that support and promote healthy and active living. With Western Australia holding one of the highest obesity rates in the country, these new guidelines are a crucial step in the right direction towards curbing this growing epidemic.

‘The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) is committed to improving the health of our community by supporting the Heart Foundation’s initiative, and supporting planning reform,’ said Charles Johnson, President of the WA Division of PIA.

‘3.2 million people die every year due to physical inactivity worldwide. PIA believes that we can stop this rising occurrence of chronic diseases by designing our communities in a way which promotes more outdoor activity and healthy living.’

The Healthy Active By Design (HABD) tool provides practical guidance, checklists and case-studies that will assist planners, urban designers and related professionals to design a built environment that enables people to be healthy and active in their community.

The tool outlines nine specific community design features that support active living, which were discovered during the research phase of HABD when looking at both international and local peer reviewed references and 33 local metropolitan and regional case studies (see Further Information). These 9 features, taken directly from the HABD tool, include:

  • Sense of Place

  • Public Open Space

  • Mixed Use

  • Housing Diversity

  • Shared Facilities

  • Buildings

  • Schools

  • Town Centre/ Main Street

  • Movement Networks

(Refer to Further Information below for an explanation on each of the above)

One of the key findings of the research behind the tool discovered that where residents had access to a main street centre & high sidewalk provision, they were nearly 12 times more likely to do ≥60 minutes of walking within the neighbourhood.

Oxford Street, Leederville and the surrounding streets are an excellent example of mixed use development with a focus on this main street design supporting healthy active community outcomes. Leederville is home to restaurants, cafes and small retail stores.

There is a hotel, an area for the youth to gather at the skate park and the Central Institute of Technology (formerly TAFE). A number of government departments such as the Water Corporation and Department of Sport and Recreation also have offices in the area. The Leederville Train Station to the south of Oxford Street provides convenient public transport.

The jetty at Busselton is also an excellent example of all levels of government engaging with the community to ensure existing heritage values continue to contribute to a strong sense of place for the local and regional community.

The City of Busselton (City), LandCorp, Busselton Jetty Environment and Conservation Association (BJECA), local business owners and community have, in various ways, invested in the Busselton Jetty (Jetty), Interpretive Centre, jetty train, Underwater Observatory and cafe located at the Busselton foreshore. The significant investment in preserving the Jetty has had a number of positive health, community and tourism impacts.

Following the HABD tool’s release to the public today, the Planning Institute of Australia will partner further with the Heart Foundation to deliver a series of training programs and to integrate this tool with state planning policies and processes.

More information available at www.healthyactivebydesign.com.au

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Media Contact: Emma de Jager

Title: Executive Officer WA & NT, Planning Institute of Australia

Phone: 0400 916 033