Healthy Spaces & Places Healthy Spaces & Places


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Accessible refers to easy and convenient access.

Accessibility is the degree to which places and spaces are accessible for all members of the community regardless of age, ability or income. Also, the distance to or from destinations or facilities.

Active frontages refers to street frontages where there is an active visual engagement between those in the street and those on the ground floors of buildings. This quality is assisted where the front facade of buildings, including the main entrance, faces and open towards the street (Victorian Activity Centre Guidelines and Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).

Active living refers to a way of life that integrates physical activity into daily routines, like walking to the shop, cycling to work, walking the dog or playing sport.

Active transport is walking, cycling or using public transport. Active transport is an alternative to car travel and can provide benefits such as increasing daily physical activity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ancillary benefits can also include an increase in the sense of community and improved mental health.

Perth ForeshoreActivity centres are the traditional focus for services, employment and social interaction in cities and towns. They are where people shop, work, meet, relax and often live. Usually well served by public transport, they range in size and intensity of use from local neighbourhood strip shopping centres to traditional town centres and major regional malls (Victorian Activity Centre Guidelines and Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).

Activity generators are land uses that encourage and intensify use of the public domain. They may include outdoor cafés and restaurants, shops and outdoor sporting areas located in open space (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).

Aesthetics, in relation to public spaces and places, is the attractiveness of an area. Webster’s Dictionary defines aesthetics as the study or theory of beauty and the psychological responses to it.

Arterial roads are the principal routes for the movement of goods and people within an area’s road network. Arterial roads have traditionally been further divided into primary and secondary arterials (See VicRoads Traffic Engineering Manual Vol 1).


Built environment means the structures and places in which we live, work and play, including land uses, transportation systems and design features.

Brownfield refers to a piece of land that is abandoned or underused, usually considered as a potential site for redevelopment. It may or may not be considered environmentally contaminated (see also Greenfield).


Collector road (street) are local roads that distribute traffic between arterial roads and the local road system and provide access to abutting properties (See VicRoads Traffic Engineering Manual Vol 1).

Community includes individuals (the public), community organisations, schools, advocacy organisations and peak bodies.

Community safety refers to the actual and perceived safety existing in any community. ‘Actual’ safety is measurable and usually expressed as  ‘a rate of crime’. This may differ from ‘perceived’ community safety which is derived from interviews and attitude surveys (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).

Compact neighbourhood or city refers to planning focussed on higher density and better accessibility that encourages walking and cycling and reduces car dependence.

Connectivity is the degree to which networks, such as streets, railways, walking and cycling routes, services and infrastructure, interconnect. A highly connected place will have many public spaces or routes linked to it.

Continuous accessible paths of travel refers to an uninterrupted path of travel to or within a building, providing access to all facilities. This accessible path does not incorporate any step, stairway, revolving door, escalator, revolving door or impediment which would prevent it being safely negotiated by people with disabilities (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).

Crime Prevention Through Urban Design (CPTED) is an analytical tool used to redesign and modify the environment to reduce opportunities for crime. It focuses on the effective design and use of the built environment to reduce the incidence and fear of crime and improve quality of life (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).

Curvilinear – street and subdivision patterns using overly rounded or curved patterns. The effect of these patterns is to shorten visual axes and lower people’s natural orientation and ability to find their own way (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).


DALYs or ‘disability-adjusted life year’ describe the amount of time lost due to both fatal and non-fatal events, that is, years of life lost due to premature death coupled with years of ‘healthy’ life lost due to disability.

Density is the measure of the number of dwellings in a given land area. It can also be a measure of population in a given land area.


End of trip facilities refers to the provision of infrastructure that caters to the needs of cyclists at their destination and includes safe and convenient access, secure bicycle parking, changing facilities, showers and lockers.

Eyes on the street refers to surveillance derived naturally from the number of people using a street or public place (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).

Established areas are urban areas (cities, towns, suburbs) that have previously been developed.



Gated community means a residential development that is entered via a security gate only. Gated communities are segregated by closing streets or walling off suburbs in order to improve perceived safety inside a development (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).

Greenfield development is development on land that has not been previously developed and usually outside of the existing urban edge (see also brownfield).


Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (Gebel et al, 2005, p8).

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is defined as "a combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, program or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those effects within the population." (European Centre for Health Policy 1999, p. 4)
Healthy by Design ® is a resource developed by the Heart Foundation (Victorian Division) aiming to make it easier for planners to incorporate design considerations that positively impact on the health and wellbeing of all people into daily planning decisions.

Healthy communities are communities where people come together to make their community better for everyone through collaboration, community ownership, inclusive approaches and long term, positive commitment.  A healthy community will:

  • provide affordable, appropriate, accessible housing
  • adjust the physical environment for inclusiveness and accessibility
  • ensure access to key health and supportive services
  • ensure accessible, affordable, reliable and safe transport
  • provide work, volunteer and education opportunities, and
  • encourage participation in civic, cultural, social and recreational activities
    (US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging, Center for Home Care Policy and Research – Case Studies [2005], 2005 Livable Communities for All Ages Competition).

Healthy planning principles are the basic values which underpin how health and planning of the built environment interrelate to improve health and well-being outcomes.



Infill – development of land adjacent to and between existing development. This is a way to accommodate increased population in an area without expanding the boundaries of development.

Infrastructure refers to the basic physical systems of a country's or community's population, including roads, utilties, water, sewerage, etc. (See also Social Infrastructure.)

Injury in public health practice usually means physical harm to a person’s body. Common types of physical injury are broken bones, cuts, brain damage, poisoning and burns (The National Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Plan: 2004-2014).

Integrated development refers to the spatial and functional linking of areas of development and their inhabitants. Integrated areas form a coherent physical whole (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).



Key destinations are the main places that people need to access and include shops, banks, workplaces, schools, parks and public transport nodes.


Land use refers to the way in which land is used and the location of activities within a geographic area. Often activities are grouped into relatively basic categories, such as residential, industrial, recreational and commercial (Mead et al, 2006, p110).

Land use mix (mixed land uses) is the diversity or variety of land uses (eg. residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural). A diverse land use mix is associated with shorter travel distances between places of interest and activities (Gebel et al, 2005, p9).

Legible refers to the ability to understand the order of a place and to find your way around in it.

Mixed density refers to residential development that contains a range of housing types, such as single dwellings, medium density dwellings and higher density dwelling units including apartment buildings, and usually includes a variety of building forms. 

Mixed land use involves a range of complementary uses that are located together in a balanced mix, including residential development, shops, employment community and recreation facilities and parks and open space.

Mixed use development is the practice of allowing more than one type of use in a building or set of buildings. Such that there are several different, but compatible and interdependent land uses located on the same or adjacent lots to mutual benefit. For example a building housing complementary uses such as lower floor commercial uses and upper floor residential use.

Movement network – see transport system.


Natural surveillance occurs by designing the placement of physical features, activities and people in such a way as to allow people to observe what is going on around them.

Non-motorised travel is travel by means including walking, cycling and small wheeled transport (skates, skateboards, scooters and wheelchairs).


Obesity and overweight – see overweight and obesity.

Obesogenic conditions that lead people to become excessively overweight or obese.

Open space refers to land that has been reserved for the purpose of sport and recreation, preservation of natural environments, provision of green space and/or urban stormwater management.

Overweight and obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. Adults are defined as being obese if their body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more and as being overweight if they have a BMI of 25 but less than 30. BMI varies with age and sex during childhood and adolescence.


Permeability describes the extent to which urban forms permit (or restrict) movement of people or vehicles in different directions. A permeable layout allows for visible and frequent access routes through an area.

Physical activity is bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that increases energy expenditure above the basal level and can include walking, running, organised sport, household chores, gardening etc.

Public spaces are areas that are publicly owned and which are intended for use by the community; and areas that are privately owned but which encourage use by the community free of any imposed rules or constraints on normal public behaviour.



Recreation is any activity engaged in for relaxation or amusement.


Safer design – see Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Safety is a term used to mean being at little or no risk of injury. A holistic approach to wellbeing requires that people must feel that they are safe in addition to actually being safe (The National Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Plan: 2004–2014).

Segregation refers to areas of urban development that are set apart from each other by design and therefore have poor connections (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).

Sense of belonging – see social cohesion.

SEPA – see Supportive Environments for Physical Activity.

Shared path is an off road route used by pedestrians, cyclists and other transport modes such as wheelchairs, rollerblades, skateboards.

Shared street is commone space to be shared by pedestrians, cyclists and low-speed motor vehicles.

Sightlines refers to lines of clear physically uninterrupted sight.

Smart growth is a strategy to achieve more compact, resource efficient and liveable communities with a high degree of accessibility.

Social capital refers to the networks and connections between people that contribute to social cohesion.

Social cohesion (also referred to as sense of belonging) refers to the degree to which people in a community feel connected and committed to, and part of, a community.

Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. They are the economic and social conditions that influence people's health.

Social inclusion refers to a society where all people are given the opportunity to participate fully in political, cultural, civic and economic life because they feel valued, their differences are respected and their basic needs are met so they can live in dignity.

Social infrastructure refers to the community facilities, services and networks that help individuals, families, groups and communities to meet their social needs, maximise their potential for development and enhance community wellbeing (South East Queensland Regional Plan 2005-2026).

Strategic planning is an inter-disciplinary and multi-objective process of policy making involving visioning and goal setting, plan development, implementation tools, detailed site design and development, monitoring and evaluation.

Structure planning is the process of developing a long-term planning framework to ensure integrated development.

Supportive Environments for Physical Activity (SEPA) is a project of the Heart Foundation based on research by Wright et al, 1999, that highlights a variety of  design elements found to influence how often people walk in their neighbourhood.

Surveillance can be natural as undertaken by people as they go about their daily activities (see ‘eyes on the street’) or formal as undertaken by the police, caretakers and security guards (Safer Design Guidelines for Victoria).


Traffic calming refers to measures that attempt to slow traffic speeds in residential neighbourhoods and near schools through physical devices such as speed humps and bumps, raised intersections, road narrowing, medians, central islands.

Transit Oriented Development is the creation of compact, walkable communities centred around high quality public transport.

Transportation Demand Management (TDM, also called Mobility Management) is a general term for strategies that result in more efficient use of transportation resources (TDM Encyclopaedia, 2008).

Transport system (also referred to as movement network) is the physical infrastructure of roads, footpaths, bike paths, railway lines, etc that provide the physical connection between places. Travel time, comfort and safety are factors that determine the quality of transport systems. It is also used as a term to describe the level of service provided eg, accessibility to public transport, routes, frequencies and connectivity (Mead et al, 2006, p110).

Trip generator is an activity/place that generates journeys to it.


Urban environment is an area with an increased density of built form and includes cities, towns and suburbs.

Urban form is a term used to describe the physical elements within a city. It refers to the arrangement, function and aesthetic qualities of the design of buildings and streets, which overlay the land use and transport system (Mead et al, 2006, p110).



Walkability is the measure of the overall walking conditions in an area.  A place is walkable when it has characteristics that invite people to walk.

Walkable catchment refers to the area accessible to someone starting their journey on foot.  It is commonly defined by a circle with a radius of 400m, or a 5 minute walk, around a centre or an 800m, or 10 minute walk, around a centre that includes a major public transport node.

Walkable communities give people a variety of destinations within walking distance of home, and safe and connected streets and pathways to get there (Gebel et al, 2007, adapted from Active Living Research at

Walking school bus is a school bus powered not by an engine but by legs. Children don’t sit inside this bus – they walk in a group to school, with an adult ‘driver’ in the front and an adult ‘conductor’ at the rear. The walkers are the bus. The bus travels along a set route to or from school, picking up or dropping off children along the way at designated ‘bus stops’. Bus stops can be meeting points along the route or each child’s front gate.

Wellbeing  and lifelong health refers to the contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous.




Last updated on 13th August, 2009

Sponsors This project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.