Planning for a healthy community

NORTH Coast Area Heath Service (NCAHS) yesterday hosted a Healthy Planning workshop aimed at bringing together local government planners and health promotion staff to collaborate to improve the health of local communities.

Ballina Shire Mayor, Phillip Silver, opened the workshop.

“This workshop is relevant to all North Coast planners as it can help us achieve our vision of promoting environments that make it easier for residents and visitors to maximise their health,” he said. The Ballina workshop attracted 50 participants from eight councils.

Jillian Adams, nutrition and physical activity coordinator from NCAHS said she was pleased with the attendance.

“Planners and developers are the custodians of developments. They have the opportunity to improve the health and social wellbeing of residents through creating new developments or redevelopments,” Ms Adams said. The town planning profession originated more than 100 years ago due to poor health in overcrowded cities.

Health has improved due to good town planning, however, residents now see built environments where cars dominate. As a result, the level of physical activity of residents is dropping and so is their health.

With the pressures of high levels of obesity, peak oil and climate change, planners are being encouraged to rethink their ideas so physical activity and healthy local food are easier to access.

Planners and Health staff at the workshop discussed how to integrate cycleways and footpaths into new developments or redevelopments and ways to incorporate local food production into urban areas.

The workshop was led by a team of experts from the Ministry of Transport, Ballina Shire Council, Department of Planning, private developers, the University of New South Wales Faculty of the Built Environment and the Premier's Council for Active Living.

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