City Futures Research Centre Arts, Design and Architecture

Planning and Building Healthy Communities: A multidisciplinary study of the relationship between the built environment and human health

This Study was carried out between 2011 and 2016 with partners the National Heart Foundation, the South Western Sydney Local Health District, and UrbanGrowth NSW. The aim was to understand how different residential localities can make every-day healthy living a reality, and so reduce the burden of chronic disease. The Study was undertaken in four geographically and demographically diverse neighbourhoods in NSW:  Airds Bradbury, New Rouse Hill, Renwick and Victoria Park.

The project involved intensive data collection comprising (i) a Neighbourhood Audit which mapped and assessed the physical features each site, recorded observations about how people use different spaces, and recorded the cost, availability and quality of foods available; (ii) structured interviews with 20 residents of each area; and (iii) a follow-up focus group with interviewees. New survey tools were developed for each of these processes.

A detailed report of findings and recommendations as well as a summary sheet, has been prepared for each Study neighbourhood:

Airds Bradbury:     Study findings
                              Healthy Neighbourhood Audit report
                              Summary sheet
New Rouse Hill:     Study findings
                              Healthy Neighbourhood Audit report
                              Summary sheet
Renwick:                Study findings
                              Healthy Neighbourhood Audit report
                              Summary sheet
Victoria Park:         Study findings
                              Healthy Neighbourhood Audit report
                              Summary sheet

A further Summation report summarises the findings and recommendations for each neighbourhood and provides overall conclusions and 14 lessons for the development of more effective healthy built environments in the future.

For a summary of the overall study and findings - Click here

The survey tools are also available for use in other similar studies. They can be accessed via our City Wellbeing Resources page - Click here

The study conclusions led to a series of ‘Practice prompts’ for creating healthy built environments - Click here

Funded by


Collaborating partners

National Heart Foundation of Australia
Sydney Southwest Health

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