In research we found that the Wyong region is one of the worst in Australia affected by lifestyle related obesity and clinical depressions and any new urban renewal would consider disability prevention through urban health as integral to the disability access strategy.
We started by identifying existing pathways to exercise and healthy urban living choices and in consultation with the locals we developed our understanding of how the natural and built environments integrate and interact. We located bicycle and walking paths and made sure that these existing networks linked with new proposed paths and wherever possible avoided the dreaded missing links between paths that all too often drop cyclist and pedestrians onto roads or end short of their destination.
Nature-based experience and exercise are highly beneficial in remedying symptoms of depression, which indicated to us potential scope for urban renewal to support other health interventions. Returning nature based experiences is not an easy proposition as commercial activities drive development to the detriment of fragile habitat.
On this occasion it was possible to preserve and grow the margins of the existing green areas and in balancing the needs of people with other mobility disabilities and cognitive impairments, we managed to avoid much of the clutter and visual noise associated with urban parks. The result is a more valued nature based experience that acts as an inviting gateway to urban health opportunities.
In support of the planning application we incorporated the NSW Department of Health, Healthy Urban Design Checklist with the disability access report to explain how the design resolved the many competing consumer and user demands to benefit of the greater urban health objective.