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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“Sustainable Growth ???”

Is there such a process as “sustainable growth”? The term appears frequently in government reports and in company strategic plans. “Sustainable growth” holds out the tantalising prospect that a society can achieve the holy grail of sustainability – the modern term for alignment with environmental imperatives – without forgoing the benefits of economic expansion. These benefits include rising standards of living, full employment, increasing opportunities for investment or professional development – and generally rising wealth for all. 

 “Sustainability” implies a steady-state condition, not one built upon expansion or increasing throughput of material resources, but if it is based upon utilisation of renewable resources, then the steady-state condition may be satisfied. “Growth” is commonly used as a shorthand term for “economic growth” which relies upon geometrically expanding extraction and throughput of material resources, which is unsustainable in a finite planet, but there are forms of community advancement other than “growth” in this material sense.

We need to address related questions such as: Is there any way of decoupling a rise in living standards from throughput of biophysical resources? Is it possible to have rising real wealth other than by accumulating more physical goods which means more demands upon the earth’s resources? Is it possible to slow down economic expansion without risking plunging the economy into recession? The paper is particularly relevant to healthy cities because most expositions of what “healthy” means include an economic dimension. Is there such a thing as a healthy economy other than one that is actively expanding and so placing growing demands upon the resources of the biophysical environment?

Dr Geoff Edwards, Adjunct Research Fellow, Centre for Governance and Public Policy

4th Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference. The Outrigger Resort and Spa,  Little Hastings St, Noosa – 27-29 July 2011

Toward the Healthy City – People, Places, and the Politics of Urban Planning

Toward the Healthy City
People, Places, and the Politics of Urban Planning
Jason Corburn

Table of Contents and Sample Chapters

In distressed urban neighborhoods where residential segregation concentrates poverty, liquor stores outnumber supermarkets, toxic sites are next to playgrounds, and more money is spent on prisons than schools, residents also suffer disproportionately from disease and premature death. Recognizing that city environments and the planning processes that shape them are powerful determinants of population health, urban planners today are beginning to take on the added challenge of revitalizing neglected urban neighborhoods in ways that improve health and promote greater equity. In Toward the Healthy City, Jason Corburn argues that city planning must return to its roots in public health and social justice. The first book to provide a detailed account of how city planning and public health practices can reconnect to address health disparities, Toward the Healthy City offers a new decision-making framework called “healthy city planning” that reframes traditional planning and development issues and offers a new scientific evidence base for participatory action, coalition building, and ongoing monitoring.

To show healthy city planning in action, Corburn examines collaborations between government agencies and community coalitions in the San Francisco Bay area, including efforts to link environmental justice, residents’ chronic illnesses, housing and real estate development projects, and planning processes with public health. Initiatives like these, Corburn points out, go well beyond recent attempts by urban planners to promote public health by changing the design of cities to encourage physical activity. Corburn argues for a broader conception of healthy urban governance that addresses the root causes of health inequities.

Urban and Industrial Environments series

About the Author

Jason Corburn is Associate Professor of City & Regional Planning in the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. He is the author of Street Science: Community Knowledge and Environmental Health Justice, winner of the 2007 Paul Davidoff award given by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

Driven Apart: How sprawl is lengthening our commutes and why misleading mobility measures are making things worse

From the USA

This new report from CEOs for Cities, Driven Apart, shows that the solution to our traffic problems has more to do with how we build our cities than how we build our roads. 

The Urban Mobility Report produced by the Texas Transportation Institute presents a distorted picture of the causes and the extent of urban transportation problems, concealing the role that sprawl plays in lengthening travel times, and effectively penalizing compact cities.  We need new and better measures of transportation system performance that emphasize accessibility, rather than just speed.

Download the full Press Relase, Executive Summary and Report here