Renwick is located on the south-eastern edge of the town of Mittagong in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. The masterplan for the 116-hectare estate provides for 600 dwellings, a village centre including retail, childcare and community facilities, and 30 hectares of public open space incorporating parks, local woodland and an extensive riparian corridor. Residential areas in the Southern Highlands are typically characterised by low-density housing and car dependence, and the population has a higher than average prevalence of overweight and obese people. To help address this, the Heart Foundation’s Healthy by Design (2004) guidelines were used to inform the plan and design of Renwick. An evaluation of the project was undertaken from 2011-2016, and although the community is still in development, the evaluation shows a good fit between Renwick’s design and the semi-rural values of its residents. Renwick is a pilot project in achieving healthy outcomes through application of healthy design principles.
In 2002, the Renwick site was identified as an urban land release site in the Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Strategic Plan. A Local Environmental Study (LES) was undertaken in preparation for development of a Local Environmental Plan (LEP) for the site. In 2004, in response to community concern about increasing housing density in the semi-rural area, Wingecarribee Shire Council resolved that there would be a maximum of 600 lots on the Renwick site. The diverse range of lot types, from 300 square metre ‘cottage lots’, located closest to the Village Centre, to 4,000 square metre ‘acre lots’, provide for a range of housing alternatives in a rural setting. As of 2016, $20,000 Housing Affordability Fund rebates are available to eligible purchasers on nominated lots under 2,000 square metres.
The Masterplan, includes several public open spaces, with co-located community facilities, including a Village Square, a Village Green with toilets, picnic shelters, play equipment, garden areas and various pocket parks within the residential areas. These project components are partially realised, with the Village Green and Rotherwood Park delivered in late 2015. The Village Centre will be the main urban focus for the new community, and a concentrated focal point for local economic, social, cultural and community activities. The design will establish a strong sense of place through facades fronting the square and streets with active edges, shopfront window displays, and inviting entries.
In response to the preliminary Social Sustainability Due Diligence Assessment completed by the master developer, Landcom, specific consideration was given to how the estate could facilitate and promote the uptake of healthy behaviours by residents, especially physical activity. In 2005, the Heart Foundation provided comments on the draft masterplan and development control plan using the Healthy by Design checklists; prepared a list of potential community programs and evaluation options; and provided ongoing advice throughout the approvals process. The Renwick development incorporates design features which promote an active lifestyle and other services and infrastructure to support a healthy community over time. Key features of the development include:
- Preservation of a general rural ambience and openness, including views to the wider Southern Highlands landscape
- Provision of high quality and connected walkways and cycleways
- Improvements to public transport services
- A Community Development Program, which commenced in 2013 with the objective of ensuring that Renwick developed organically as an integral part of the Southern Highlands
- New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services
- Wingecarribee Shire Council
- Heart Foundation New South Wales Division
- University of New South Wales, Project evaluation
- South Western Sydney Local Health District, Project evaluation