North Coast Area Heath Service yesterday hosted a Healthy Planning workshop aimed at bringing together local government planners and health promotion staff to collaborate to improve the health of local communities.

Ballina Shire Mayor Phillip Silver opened the workshop. “This workshop is relevant to all North Coast planners as it can help us achieve our vision of promoting environments which make it easier for residents and visitors to maximise their health,” he said.

The Ballina workshop attracted 50 participants from eight councils. 

Jillian Adams, Nutrition and Physical Activity Co-ordinator from North Coast Area Health Service, was pleased with the attendance.

“Planners and developers are the custodians of developments. They have the opportunity improve the health and social well-being of residents through creating new developments or redevelopments,” she said.

“The town planning profession originated over one 100 years ago because of poor health in overcrowded cities.

“Health has improved because of this but we now see built environments where cars dominate. As a result, the level of physical activity of residents is dropping and so is their health.

“With the pressures of high levels of overweight, peak oil and climate change we need to rethink the way we plan so that physical activity and healthy local food are easier to access.”

Planners and health staff at the workshop discussed how to integrate cycleways and footpaths into new or redevelopments and ways to incorporate local food production into urban areas.

The workshop was led by a team of experts from the Ministry of Transport, Ballina Shire Council, Department of Planning, private developers, the University of New South Wales Faculty of the Built Environment and the Premier’s Council for Active Living.