In the 50’s and 60’s, the great Australian dream was to own your own home on a quarter acre block

Where you had enough room to play backyard cricket, have a swimming pool and as a kid, swing off the old hills hoist whilst your mum wasn’t watching.

However, that dream is slowly changing as people increasingly choose medium density homes in the inner city, rather than the traditional car-dependant family home on the fringes of the city.
So, as the yard space begins to shrink how remain physically active?

Creating liveable, active communities is a Heart Foundation SA focus.

The Heart Foundation supports denser living done well – it’s about the power of nearness – so having transport, employment and services close to your home makes it easier to walk and leave the car at home.

When we talk about density, people often think of high-rise buildings, or overcrowding. But density does not mean height or monotony. It’s about compact walkable, mixed use neighbourhoods that bring destinations closer together. These neighbourhoods have a mixture of housing types that cater for all ages. They are close to shops, parks, public transport, schools, jobs and services.

When all these healthy design elements come together, you have a healthy active neighbourhood which contributes to better physical activity outcomes particularly walking and cycling for both transport and recreation.

We need to consider how we are going to cater for the increasing population. We can’t keep sprawling outwards from the edges of the city over fertile agricultural land. One way to do this is to build in established areas which already have frequent transport services and infrastructure and amenity.

• Many young people desire to live in vibrant neighbourhoods with access to quality public spaces, close to their home rather than having a house with a big garden. We need to offer housing choice – St Clair a really good example of many types of housing built around the St Clair train station.
• Smaller private spaces can be offset by public spaces, including pocket parks, community squares, community gardens, parks, and trails.

30% of our city is made up of streets. As we chose to live in more compact housing with smaller private space we will increasingly use public spaces, including the streets. So we need to think differently about our local streets – they are not just for cars but also for people.

Bowden Village in South Australia is just 2 kms out of the CBD, and setting new standards for medium density developments where people can live without a car, yet stay connected in every way.

The special design of the shared streets reduces vehicle speed to about 35 km/hr making walking and cycling much safer and attractive.

The streets have no upright kerbs, paving bands and in some cases central trees have been used to capture and filter stormwater and slow traffic.

Meeting places such as the Bowden Square and public bike racks are also built into most local streets.

Bowden is very well connected to public transport, with two train stations and a free tram service within walking distance. The neighbourhood is designed on a grid pattern with lots of easy walking routes to local shops, community facilities and the linear park.

The streets are designed with shady trees, vegetation, benches, street art – encouraging residents to walk more and drive less.

Green space is also an important component of making density work.

All green space and open space is seen as having a positive benefit, and is particularly important in medium density neighbourhoods where block size is smaller.

Evidence that people with better access to high quality open space and green space are more likely to walk and undertake physical activity than those who don’t.

Providing large amounts of green spaces is not enough, it also has to be appropriate for the community, useable, attractive and safe.

Mixes of pocket parks, central greens, wetland, sports areas, dog park, playing fields and greenways.
The developments of St Clair and Bowden Village in South Australia are great examples of application of the Heart Foundation’s healthy design principles, and healthy neighbourhoods.

If you would like any more information healthy neighbourhoods and staying physically active, just head to the Heart Foundation website.






About The Author

In the Garden is an exciting new local South Australian TV program on Channel 9 this Summer & next Autumn showcasing the best ‘green’ stories this state has to tell. Check out the latest in garden trends, new plants and top tips to keep those gardens blooming.