All new residential developments in Queensland could have more walkable street layouts, better connectivity, footpaths with street trees for shading, and better access to parks and public open space, following the release for public consultation of a new model code for neighbourhood design.
In a move designed to improve health and neighbourhood design throughout the state, Minister for PlanningCameron Dick said the new standards could become compulsory for new developments.
“Our built environment has a huge impact on how active and healthy people are. With some relatively simple improvements to the current planning framework, we can better ensure all new developments are walkable and encourage active living, which will help improve the health of all Queenslanders,” Mr Dick said.
“We live in a hot climate and in a recent Department of Transport and Main Roads survey 24 percent of Queenslanders said lack of shade and shelter along their walking route was a major barrier to walking in Queensland.
“This code is about getting the fundamentals of new development right, creating walkable, grid-like street layouts, better connectivity, footpaths with street trees for shading, and better access to parks and public open space.”
Mr Dick said elements of the model code could be become mandatory by the end of 2019.
“While some councils and developers are exceeding the benchmarks we are setting, we want to make sure all new development meets community expectations,” he said.
“This will provide greater certainty for the development community about what is expected of new development and ultimately provide better designed communities for home buyers and renters.”
Elements of the code which could become mandatory by the end of the year include:
- Grid-like street networks with fewer cul-de-sacs
- footpaths complemented by street trees on both sides of most streets
- street blocks no longer than 130m with longer blocks having mid-block pedestrian breaks
- parks and open spaces within comfortable walking distance of every dwelling.
Heart Foundation Queensland CEO, Stephen Vines, said walking-friendly neighbourhoods were needed to get residents more active and address the state’s growing obesity crisis.
“Too many Queenslanders are missing out on the physical activity they need for good heart health, so we must find ways to encourage residents to get moving and leave the car at home more often,” Mr Vines said.
“Neighbourhood design plays an important role in building healthier communities, and we’re pleased to see this model code includes Healthy Active by Design principles from the Heart Foundation.
“There is a great deal of research that proves better designed communities provide health and economic benefits by encouraging physical activity and reducing heart disease – our biggest killer.”
Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Queensland CEO, Kirsty Chessher-Brown, said it was important the industry worked together to ensure good health outcomes for all new communities.
“The design of new communities can have an impact on how healthy and active people are so it’s important we all play our part to support healthier communities,” Ms Chessher-Brown said.
“The UDIA supports measures that seek to provide healthy and active communities across the state and supports the development of model codes which encourage the provision of walkable environments.”
Mr Dick said this was a policy for the community and feedback would be sought on how best to make our communities more active, connected and safe.
“Whether you live in an inner-city suburb or a remote part of Queensland, this is a policy with benefits for every Queenslander,” he said.
“I want to hear from all Queenslanders about the challenges they have in their neighbourhoods, from lack of footpaths to poor shading, and what we can do to improve these things in new developments.
“We want Queenslanders to be able to move easily and comfortably around their neighbourhood.