Updates

Building resilient, healthy and active communities post COVID-19

Queensland Government media release

Queenslanders can look forward to living in more walkable neighbourhoods, thanks to new mandatory provisions for the design of residential neighbourhoods.

Treasurer and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Queenslanders live, work and connect.

“The COVID-19 restrictions were put in place early to protect Queenslanders and the economy and we have all experienced how our neighbourhood design supports walkability and access to local parks and open spaces.” Mr Dick said.

Mr Dick said the Queensland Government began looking at how effective planning and investment in community infrastructure could support more active and healthy communities in July 2019.

“Prior to the pandemic, we undertook extensive community consultation about how effective neighbourhood design could support community health and wellbeing.

“Now more than ever as we Unite and Recover from COVID-19, implementing these changes will mean that we design and build better communities and ensure local neighbourhoods have the fundamentals — such as footpaths, street trees, nearby parks and open space.” Mr Dick said.

President of Queensland Walks, Michelle Wade, said the recent Queensland Walks’ Week campaign had highlighted the enormous difference that walk-friendly neighbourhoods and green space makes to everyday life, especially during these challenging times.

“Significant physical and mental health benefits can be achieved by walking every day, and Queensland Walks supports initiatives and investment to design more walk-friendly communities and neighbourhoods,” Mrs Wade said.

“Over 26 per cent of our Queensland Walks’ Week participants said that their local neighbourhood was very walkable, with 27 per cent stating that more can be done to make their neighbourhood more walkable.

“During Queensland Walks’ Week 2020, the community shared many examples of how walking enables them to enjoy simple things in life, like green space and fresh air, and the positive impact that walk-friendly neighbourhoods can have on mental wellbeing and social connections,” Mrs Wade said.

Mr Dick said the Queensland Government has developed a range of complementary guidance documents to assist local councils to implement the mandatory provisions and make existing environments more walkable.

“We know that many established neighbourhoods are not conducive to walking and retrofitting will require an investment from council,” Mr Dick said.

“To help councils we have developed the Walkability Improvement Tool which gives them a step-by-step guide to effectively and efficiently identify and prioritise walkability improvements based on the greatest return on investment.”

Mr Dick welcomed the release of the Street Design Manual for Walkable Neighbourhoods by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia Queensland (IPWEAQ) and said complementary industry-led guidance materials will also support implementation of the mandatory provisions.

IPWEAQ chief executive, Leigh Cunningham, said the Street Design Manual for Walkable Neighbourhoods plays an important role in supporting the mandatory code by providing guidance on active transport options that will deliver safer neighbourhoods and a sense of community.

“The Street Design Manual for Walkable Neighbourhoods recognises streets as an important connector to multi-purpose social spaces in our neighbourhoods.

“Developed for industry by industry, the Street Design Manual for Walkable Neighbourhoods provides detailed practical guidance for local councils, engineers, planners, and other decision makers involved with the planning and design of walkable neighbourhoods,” Ms Cunningham said.

Mr Dick said the mandatory provisions and model code support the Queensland Economic Recovery Plan’s top priority to safeguarding the health of Queenslanders and delivers on Queensland’s first Walking Strategy released in 2019.

The mandatory provisions will commence on 28 September 2020 to allow developers and local government to undertake training on the provisions. Learn more about the mandatory provisions and access the Walkability Improvement Tool.

Read Queensland’s Economic Recovery Plan.

View the Street Design Manual for Walkable Neighbourhoods.