Are we developing walkable suburbs through urban planning policy? Identifying the mix of design requirements to optimise walking outcomes from the 'Liveable Neighbourhoods' planning policy in Perth, Western Australia

Paula Hooper, Matthew Knuiman, Fiona Bull, E. Jones, B. Giles-Corti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Background: Planning policy makers and practitioners are requesting clearer guidance on the 'essential' ingredients as assessed by public health researchers to ensure suburban neighbourhood environments are designed to promote active living behaviours such as walking.
Objectives: To identify the combination of design requirements from the 'Liveable Neighbourhoods' (LN) planning policy in Perth, Western Australia that were optimally supportive of walking.
Methods: K-means cluster analysis identified groups of developments with homogeneous LN features from its community design (CD), movement network (MN), lot layout (LL) and public parkland (PP) elements. Walking behaviours measured using the Neighbourhood Physical Activity Questionnaire were compared between participants resident in the different clusters, adjusting for demographic characteristics, self-selection factors, stage of construction and scale of development.
Results: Compared with participants living in the referent cluster of 'poor CD and PP developments' those living in: 'MN and LL developments' had higher odds of doing any (OR = 1.74; 95 % CI = 1.22, 2.48) and ≥60 min walking for recreation (WR) (OR = 2.05; 1.46, 2.88); 'PP developments' had increased odds of doing any WR (OR = 3.53; 2.02, 6.17), ≥60 min WR (OR = 3.37; 1.98, 5.74) and any total walking (TW) (OR = 2.35; 1.36, 4.09); 'CD-MN developments' had increased odds of doing any walking for transport (WT) (OR = 2.64; 1.38, 5.06), ≥60 min WT (OR = 1.98; 1.09, 3.61), any TW (OR = 1.71; 1.44, 2.03), ≥60 min TW (OR = 1.77; 1.14, 2.76) and ≥150 min TW (OR = 1.47; 1.15, 1.86).
Conclusions: This study is the first to have empirically identified a mix of specific and distinguishing planning policy neighbourhood design requirements to optimise walking outcomes. These findings will assist in the assessment of urban plans for greenfield suburban developments designed to promote walking and physical activity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2015


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