Build it and they will walk: the suburbs that foster good health

Jason Dowling  |  City Editor for The Age

If you design suburbs so walking to public transport, shops and parks is an easy option, people will walk – that is the simple and clear finding of long-term Australian research.

urban sprawl

Health and planning experts are urging governments to make health a feature of planning laws and city growth strategies.

Researchers monitored the amount of walking by more than 1400 people building homes in new developments in Perth. Readings were taken before moving in and about 12 months later.

The results, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, showed transport-related walking declined and recreational walking increased.

Read the full story here

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Walk it out: urban design plays key role in creating healthy cities

Professor Billie Giles-Corti

Residents of new housing developments increased their exercise and their wellbeing when they had more access to shops and parks, a new University of Melbourne study reveals.

The ten year study found that the overall health of residents of new housing developments in Western Australia, improved when their daily walking increased as a result of more access to parks, public transport, shops and services.

Lead researcher Professor Billie Giles-Corti, Director of the McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing at the University of Melbourne said the study provided long-term evidence that residents’ walking increased with greater availabi

“The study demonstrates the potential of local infrastructure to support health-enhancing behaviours,” she said.lity and diversity of local transport and recreational destinations.

The study examined the impact of urban planning on active living in metropolitan Perth, Western Australia. More than 1,400 participants building homes in new housing developments were surveyed before relocation to new homes and approximately 12 months later.

The study found that for every local shop, residents’ physical activity increased an extra 5-6 minutes of walking per week. For every recreational facility available such as a park or beach, residents’ physical activity increased by an extra 21 minutes per week.

“This means that where there is an environment that supports walking with access to multiple facilities residents walked much more,” Professor Giles-Corti said.

These findings could inform public health and urban design policy demonstrating that people respond to an environment that is supportive of physical activity.

“Given that being physically active reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, which are both huge costs to the health system, these results could have huge implications for government policy such as the Victorian State Government’s new Metropolitan Planning Strategy,” Professor Giles-Corti said.

The study was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Two Conferences! Three Days! One Location in 2013

6th Making Cities Liveable Conference, in conjunction with the Sustainable Transformation Conference, is being held from the 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda. The collaboration brings together National, State and Regional delegates to explore, exchange ideas and network.

The joint conference will be a platform for Government, Industry sector professionals and Academics to discuss causes, effects and solutions. Delegates will have access to an extensive range of topics with over 90 presentations across three days including Keynotes, Concurrent Sessions, Case Studies and Posters. www.healthycities.com.au

ABS population figures: we’re growing, especially in WA

12 February 2013 — Western Australian continues to record the fastest population growth rate of all states and territories, 3.3 per cent, according to the latest demographic figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that will have an impact on planning for a more sustainable development industry.

Tasmania recorded the slowest growth rate at 0.2 per cent.

The figures, which cover from 30 June 2011 to 30 June 2012 and were released in December last year, found that Australia’s population increased to 22,683,600, up by 359,600 during the 12-month period.

This places the annual population growth rate for the year ended 30 June 2012 at 1.6 per cent, up from a low of 1.1 per cent for the year ending March 2011.

The Bureau says the growth of Australia’s population has two components: natural increase (the number of births minus the number of deaths) and net overseas migration.

To read the full story, click here

Jason Roberts, Co-Founder, Better Block to speak at 2013 Liveable Cities Conference in Melbourne

Jason Roberts, Co-Founder, Better Block has been featured in the Washington Post and New York Times, and was recently awarded an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Award. Team Better Block was showcased in the US Pavillion at the 2012 Venice Biennale (the ‘Architect’s Olympics’).

Jason has over fifteen years of experience in IT consulting and Communications. Before founding the Better Block project, Jason Roberts led multiple community non-profit organizations focused on alternative transportation including the Oak Cliff Transit Authority, and Bike Friendly Oak Cliff. In 2010, Jason spearheaded the City of Dallas’s effort in garnering a $23 Million dollar TIGER stimulus grant from the FTA to help reintroduce a modern streetcar system to the region. In the Spring of 2010, Jason organised a series of “Better Block” projects, taking blighted blocks with vacant properties in Southern Dallas and converting them into temporary walkable districts with pop-up businesses, bike lanes, cafe seating, and landscaping. The project is now being duplicated throughout the country.

You can watch Jason’s TEDx address here:

Two Conferences! Three Days! One Location in 2013

6th Making Cities Liveable Conference, in conjunction with the Sustainable Transformation Conference, is being held from the 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda. The collaboration brings together National, State and Regional delegates to explore, exchange ideas and network.

The joint conference will be a platform for Government, Industry sector professionals and Academics to discuss causes, effects and solutions. Delegates will have access to an extensive range of topics with over 90 presentations across three days including Keynotes, Concurrent Sessions, Case Studies and Posters. www.healthycities.com.au

Parenting and place: pilot study exploring experiences of women from inner and outer Melbourne suburbs

Books of Proceedings

Conference Papers

Fiona Andrews, Claire Henderson-Wilson, Mardie Townsend from the Centre for Health through Action on Exclusion, presented this paper at the 2012 Conference.

This pilot study explored the views of women from inner-city and outer suburban municipalities on their residential location as a place in which to raise children.

Thematic analysis of interviews revealed that, irrespective of location, women had not chosen to reside in their municipality on the basis of child-rearing. However there were key differences between their experiences of raising their children in the two municipalities in relation to the social connections they both expected, and encountered in their local communities, as well as their attitudes towards transport,open space and safety.

Findings will help inform the design of a larger scale study comparing families’ experiences of raising children in a changing urban environment.

You can get a copy of the full paper here

Two Conferences! Three Days! One Location in 2013

6th Making Cities Liveable Conference, in conjunction with the Sustainable Transformation Conference, is being held from the 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda. The collaboration brings together National, State and Regional delegates to explore, exchange ideas and network.

The joint conference will be a platform for Government, Industry sector professionals and Academics to discuss causes, effects and solutions.  Delegates will have access to an extensive range of topics with over 90 presentations across three days including Keynotes, Concurrent Sessions, Case Studies and Posters.  www.healthycities.com.au

Planning and design of master-planned communities for healthy living

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. Varsity Lakes in Gold Coast is an example of such community which provides both infrastructures and programs to encourage active living. The objective of the paper is to examine the relationship between built environment and healthy communities through a review of current literature.

Synthesising these findings, a conceptual framework is developed for supporting active and healthy living in master-planned communities. The three key factors are;

1) place
2) program
3) partnership

This framework is then applied to Varsity Lakes as a case study area for validation.  The paper identifies key challenges and opportunities Varsity Lakes face in its role in promoting active and healthy living and draw implications for the planning of future master-planned communities.

Bhishna Bajracharya, Associate Professor of Urban Planning, and Linda Too, Associate Professor of Urban Development, Bond University presented at the 2012 Liveable Cities Conference, you can download the full paper, “peer reviewed”,  in the conference book of proceedings from the event website. www.healthycities.com.au

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Urban Ecology and the Future of Cities

In June this year Helen Meikle, Research Fellow and  Hisham Elkadi,  Head of School, Architecture and Building from Deakin University presented the following paper at the 5th Making Cities Liveable Conference.

The role of ecology in a sustainable future is prominent in the media, academic writing and political decisions; as such environmental pressures, as well as economic, social and political, increasingly influence planning for the future. This paper looks at how this translates into the process for planning future cities – highlighting gaps in knowledge and issues of implementation. It draws on interdisciplinary sources to explore three main elements of the debate:  What is urban  ecology and why is it important to sustainable cities?; What gaps are there in the ecological knowledge of planners and policy makers and why are there gaps?; and How can urban ecology be integrated into the planning of future sustainable cities?.

The paper does not aim to provide a definitive answer to the problem; rather it addresses the first two areas and identifies potential directions for the third. It takes Australia, as national, Victoria, as regional and Geelong, as local, points of reference.

You can download the full paper in the Peer Reviewed Book of Proceedings from the conference website http://healthycities.com.au

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