Due to growing health concerns linked to inactive living, a number of new masterplanned communities in South East Queensland are creating supportive environments for physical activities. As part of promoting active and healthy living, these communities provide a number of amenities such as public green spaces, hike and bike trails, sporting and recreational activities within the development.
Varsity Lakes (estimated population 9,000) in Gold Coast is an example of such community. Varsity Lakes boasts of a large public green space and a new Sports House for community recreational activities as well as for organising corporate sporting events for businesses in the area. A not-for-profit entity Varsity Lakes Community Limited has been established by the developer to engage the community as well as to develop partnership with local council and other sporting organisations. Varsity Lakes is one of the few major developments in South East Queensland where a full time sports and recreational officer has been employed to promote active and healthy programs.
Dr Bhishna Bajracharya examined the emerging role of masterplanned communities in promoting active and healthy living, using Varsity Lakes as a case study area. Dr Bhishna Bajracharya developed a conceptual framework for analysis of active living in the masterplanned communities and apply it to the case study area.
It focused on three critical themes to support active and healthy living:
- provision of sports and recreational infrastructure;
- development of recreational programs; and
- governance mechanisms.
Dr Bhishna Bajracharya’s presentation at the 5th Australian Healthy Cities: Working Together to Achieve Liveable Cities Conference, further identified some of the key challenges Varsity Lakes is facing in terms of gaps in provision of services for active living and draw lessons for other masterplanned communities.