Skip to content Be Active WA logo

Page updated: 25 June 2012

The Physical Activity Taskforce has ceased operation and this website is no longer updated.

Updated: 25 June 2012

Healthy Active by Design: A Western Australian project to designing places for active and healthy living

Healthy Active by Design

The Healthy Active by Design project (HABD) will see the development of a guide and website that links planning and health to support physical activity. The project is currently under development and due for completion by August 2013.

Access resource

Healthy Active by Design Adobe PDF 579 kB


Project Overview

Currently in Western Australia, there is limited guidance to apply strategic planning tools and design specification to support active living. In response to this, the Heart Foundation in collaboration with the Physical Activity Taskforce has established the Healthy Active by Design project (HABD) to develop a guide and website that links planning and health to support physical activity.


Project Phases 

The project has three distinct phases:

  • Phase 1 – policy scoping, desktop and identification of emerging design features, review of evidence and existing design guidance, consultation with key stakeholders – completed.
  • Phase 2 – development of content, production of the guide and associated resources – current.
  • Phase 3 – implementation and evaluation of the resource – due September 2013.

It is intended that the guide supported by effective polices across sectors, will contribute to improved health and wellbeing outcomes, and more sustainable communities. This is of particular relevance in Western Australia which covers a diverse area of metropolitan, regional and rural areas and is undergoing rapid population growth.

Healthy Active by Design Features

The design features currently being considered for inclusion in the resource are:

Local access

To increase residential density, intensity of land-use and active transport networks to support local businesses, employment, education, cultural and recreational opportunities, and frequent accessible public transport.

  • Locate higher residential densities near activity centres and along public transport routes to maximise access and convenience to services.
  • Locate medium density development in areas of high amenity, which may coincide with activity centres or neighbourhood parks, as well as in close proximity to public transport routes.
  • Provide mixed density residential development within walking distance of public areas including open space and a variety of places for social interaction; key destinations, such as shops, schools and medical centres; and accessible public transport.
  • Mixed density developments should be integrated with surrounding development, public transport and with supporting infrastructure including walkways, public areas and cycle paths.


To encourage groupings of key destination points within close proximity of each other to improve accessibility, integrated facilities and multiple uses of space and travel networks.

  • Provide a range of development types and densities (including residential) that allow for a mix of day and night time activities.
  • Integrate new development with existing developments and surrounding transport networks.
  • Pay attention to lighting, street furniture, signage, footpath treatment and safe road crossings to ensure a safe and convivial space is provided for all users.
  • Provide open space and recreation areas especially for children and their carers.
  • Locate developments within walking distance of bus or tram stops (400 m) or train stations (up to 800 m).
  • A mix of land uses, including residential, and access to the shops and services required for daily living that is well integrated with public transport, designed to maximise surveillance and designed to be safe from traffic will support the use of active forms of transport.

Traffic Management 

To manage vehicle traffic to provide safe environments for walking, cycling and other physical activities.

  • Prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and public transport above car use in transport policy.
  • Design streets that promote vehicle speeds of no more than 30 km per hour in residential streets, strip shopping and around major trip generators (e.g. schools).
  • Provide high quality pedestrian and bicycle facilities to service major trip generation locations such as schools, hospitals and shopping precincts.
  • Encourage on-street car parking to calm traffic speeds, support retail and commercial businesses and provide a buffer between pedestrians and roads.
  • Provide street crossings on busy streets and in the vicinity of major trip generators including schools, hospitals, shops, parks and public transport stops.

Welcoming Paths

To provide an accessible, attractive and welcoming street environment, with well maintained footpaths for all users.

  • Make walking and cycling the preferred mode of transport by providing:

- High levels of amenity, especially to key destinations such as workplaces, schools and shops;
- Mixed land uses and densities to support active transport; and,
- Choices of destinations.

  •  Focus the structure planning process around the needs of active transport at the regional and local level to ensure active transport is the base from which the access and movement strategy is built.

Connected Streets & Linked Communities 

To create connected street networks that allow pedestrians and cyclists to take more direct routes to and from destinations. Make travel between neighbourhoods easier by ensuring pedestrian and cycle networks are inter-connected and providing access to frequent accessible public transport services.

  • Provide a variety of local destinations within easy walking distance (400 m is a comfortable walking distance for most people).
  • Design street layout based on grids with spacing of 80-100 m to provide an optimum network for pedestrian and vehicular needs. 
  • Provide off-road pedestrian and cycle networks in non-grid or curvilinear street layouts. 
  • Provide interconnected network of walking and cycling routes to service local destinations. 
  • Provide active transport routes along predictable paths of travel, such as to schools, recreation facilities and shops. 
  • Mixed development neighbourhoods should cover a 400 m radius (about 5 minutes walk).

Healthy Active School Design 

To design and locate schools to facilitate young people’s active transport to school, and physical activity while at school.

 When identifying new sites or designing new schools, the school should be: 

  • Centrally located for the school catchment with appropriate design of surrounding roads, and pedestrian and cycle networks to provide safe access to routes to the school.
  • On accessible and through streets but not heavily trafficked to minimise traffic congestion around the school.
  • Linked to public transport where suitable, especially for secondary schools.
  • Co-located with other community facilities (sports facilities, libraries and performing arts) to develop a focal point for the community.
  • Co-located with and sharing with public playfields.

Functional Public Open Space

To design multi-purpose public open spaces that are functional and accessible and cater for the needs of children, adolescent, adults and seniors of all abilities.

  • Provide good quality open space and trails that protect and enhance the environmental, cultural and heritage values of an area.
  • Ensure parks and open space are safe, well maintained and actively managed.
  • Increase usability by ensuring that open space is:

- Of a sufficient size and shape to cater for the intended use of the site.
- Adaptable and maximises the range of possible uses available ensuring equitable opportunities for all users.
- Shared with a number of user groups, e.g. school ovals form a part of the open space network and are available out of school hours for community use, allowing for the efficient  use of land.

Community Safety

To create communities where people feel safe in their homes, in the local streets and neighbourhood public spaces.

  • Ensure that routes have good sightlines to entrances and exits with landscaping pruned to ensure that sightlines are clear.
  • Light public spaces and routes used at night to improve safety and surveillance and increase usage.
  • Active frontages: Design buildings to provide natural surveillance of the street (e.g. windows overlooking footpaths and building entrances facing the street that are easily visible and accessible from the street).
  • Locate parks, play areas and public open spaces so they are visible from adjoining buildings such as houses, streets and schools.
  • Consult with community, service providers, government agencies and the private sector about the type and level of facilities required in the community to support active living.

Food Access

To ensure that urban design and the built environment does not inhibit but encourages healthy eating. This includes consideration of aspects of the food supply including food production, processing and transportation, consumer access and utilisation, and waste management.

  • Preserve agricultural land in urban areas and promote policies to encourage local food production.
  • Utilise zoning and regulatory measures to address land use, advertising and availability of types of food outlets in specific areas.
  • Consider breast feeding policies in design requirements for public buildings and spaces.
  • Improve access to food supply transport planning.

Building and Design Location

Buildings and facilities should provide opportunities for physical activity through ensuring that the design, layout and location enhances amenity and provides an accessible environment for all.

  • Promote inclusive design of buildings as a key principle of the planning system.
  • Prioritise pedestrian, cycling and public transport access in the design and layout of buildings and facilities.
  • Integrate cycle storage and parking facilities into the design and location of buildings and facilities.
  • Provide facilities and spaces in workplaces that promote physical activity such as changing facilities and gymnasiums.
  • Ensure Disability Access and Inclusion Plans address physical activity issues.
  • Provide a safe and accessible network of travel routes to and from buildings and facilities.
  • Increase stair usage through location, design and appropriate promotional signage.

How Can You Help

For those of you that are interested in contributing to the development of this resource then we would like to hear from you.  You can take part by either:

  1. Completing the online ‘needs and issues’ survey that aims to explore the design considerations and test the formulation of emerging design features relating to the resource.
  2. Submitting examples of good practice case studies in which appropriate design principles have been utilised.


Contact Details

For further information please contact:

Jo Appleby, Planning for Active Living Manager, Heart Foundation on 9382 5953 or


Project Partners

The HABD project is managed by the Taskforce in partnership with the Heart Foundation.

The project is supported by a Project Management Group that also includes representation from the Departments of Education, Health, Planning, Sport and Recreation, and Transport.

The HABD project is also proudly sponsored by LandCorp.


Related Resources

Healthy Spaces & Places

Healthy Spaces & Places

Healthy Spaces and Places is a national guide for planning, designing and creating sustainable communities that encourage healthy living.

Healthy by Design – Tasmania 2009

Healthy by Design – Tasmania 2009

Developed by the Heart Foundation (Tasmania) and the Premier's Physical Activity Council, Healthy by Design: A Guide to Planning and Designing Active Environments for Tasmania, is a resource that aims to assist planners and subdivision engineers in developing healthy and cost effective spaces that are conducive to active living.

Healthy by Design – Victoria 2004

Healthy by Design – Victoria 2004

Prepared by the National Heart Foundation of Australia (Victoria Division), Healthy by Design: A Planners' Guide to Environments for Active Living has been developed with the aim of making it easier for planners to incorporate, into daily planning decisions, design considerations that positively impact on the health and well being of all Victorians.