Well-planned neighbourhoods can improve people’s health, which is particularly important given the rising incidence of chronic lifestyle related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity. Active and socially connected people are healthier and better able to adapt to change. Strong social networks help communities respond to the challenges of urban life, such as housing affordability and access to work and education. They give people access to knowledge, resources and opportunities. Great places are shaped by healthy and connected communities that share values and trust, and can develop resilience (refer to Objective 12 and Objective 36).
Street life, meeting and gathering places and emerging sharing and digital networks sustain social networks. Streets allow spontaneous social interaction and community cultural life when they are designed at a human scale for walkability.
Managing growth and change requires meaningful engagement with local communities. Understanding and building on a community’s strengths, networks and potential are critical. Infrastructure and services for socially connected communities include:
- playgrounds, libraries, education facilities and active street life
- farmers’ markets, eat streets, street verges and community gardens
- creative arts centres, theatres, live music and co-working spaces
- bushcare groups, outdoor gyms, sportsgrounds, aquatic centres, and community spaces.
These generate the greatest social opportunities when they are intergenerational, multipurpose and co-located at the heart of walkable neighbourhoods.
Mixed-use neighbourhoods close to centres and public transport improve the opportunity for people to walk and cycle to schools, local shops and services. Enhancing the safety, convenience and accessibility of walking and cycling trips has many benefits including healthier people, more successful businesses and centres and reduced traffic congestion.
A 20-minute walk built into a person’s daily routine reduces the risk of early death by 22 per cent and increases a person’s mental health by 33 per cent6.
Sport and active lifestyles provide many social, cultural and health benefits. The Office of Sport is working in collaboration with key partners, including councils, to develop a Sport and Recreation Participation Strategy and a Sport and Recreation Facility Plan for each district during 2018 and 2019.
Being connected including physically, socially, economically, culturally and digitally is central to building healthy, resilient and diverse communities. Developing places for people is important at every scale, from large transformation projects to local public realm improvements (see also Objective 14). This requires collaboration and coordination across a range of stakeholders and agencies, councils and communities, developers and service providers.