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.

Description of project

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
Project team
  • Landcom
  • 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
Project cost


Health value

Renwick supports a healthy lifestyle through provision of walking and cycling infrastructure, public open space and recreation facilities, and improvements to local bus services. In the future, it will also provide value through a proposed Village Centre within walking distance of most lots, and other community facilities and services.

The Masterplan considered promotion of an active lifestyle by proposing a network of pedestrian and cycling paths within the estate, with connecting paths to facilitate access to Mittagong township, railway station and the network proposed in the Council’s Bicycle Strategy. In accordance with the Healthy by Design principles, the streets are laid out in grids to enable direct walking routes, and there is at least one footpath on every street. A Ped Shed analysis of the Masterplan indicated that 66% of lots were within easy walking and cycling distance to the proposed Village Centre. There was a focus on providing passive recreation facilities within the public open space areas; and negotiation to reroute the local bus service to pass through Renwick was successful.

Although there are currently no shops within Renwick itself, there is a good range of fresh foods in the nearby centres of Mittagong and Bowral. In the long-term, the provision of healthy fresh food in the proposed Village Centre will reduce dependence on these other centres and encourage local access by walking and cycling, and increasing incidental social interactions. Additionally, the general size of allotments means that most residents in Renwick can grow vegetables within their own yard space if they choose.  

Economic value

As part of the Renwick development, there will be an extensive list of works and monetary contributions to services off-site, which has been formalised in a Voluntary Planning Agreement between Landcom and Wingecarribee Shire Council. The Agreement provides for the provision of a community centre and regional-scaled public open space areas and recreation facilities for the wider community. Successful operation of these facilities should lead to increased visitation to Renwick and the surrounding area, thereby supporting the local economy.

Environmental value


The Masterplan and Development Control Plan for Renwick provide for the preservation of the natural features of the site, such as public open space, surrounding bushland and conservation of a significant riparian corridor. Additionally, there is a requirement in the Renwick Planning Agreement for restoration and adaptive reuse of the old silos on the estate, to provide opportunity for active recreation facilities.

Social value

Renwick offers social value via specific design elements, provision of public open space, and a Welcome Program for new residents, supported by a Community Development Coordinator.

Since 2013, Landcom has funded the coordinator position to help foster social cohesion and build social capital through a range of activities such as regular community newsletters and events.

The internal movement networks (cycling and walking paths) encourage residents to be physically active, which foster community interactions and creates a sense of place. Further, the Development Control Plan (DCP) includes explicit provisions requiring residential dwellings, living areas and front doors to be facing the street.  The design of the future Village Centre includes features to foster incidental social interaction. 

Use value

The Masterplan provides for extensive public open space areas and public facilities with different functions including a Village Green opposite the proposed Village Centre, Tangara Park in the south-west residential precinct, and The Paddock within the future eastern precinct. The Village Green will include several features to attract and ensure the comfort of residents, such as toilet facilities, bicycle parking, a picnic shelter, a double flying fox, lawn area, dry creek, a triple swing, play structure seating and a memorial garden. 


National Heart Foundation of Australia. 2004. Healthy by Design. A guide to planning environments for active living in Victoria. Melbourne: National Heart Foundation of Australia.   

Paine, G., Mitchell, E., and Thompson, S. 2016. Planning and Building Healthy Communities – A multi-disciplinary study of the relationship between the built environment and human health. Study area findings for Renwick. Sydney: City Futures Research Centre.

Renwick Development Control Plan

Renwick Planning Agreement

UrbanGrowth NSW. 2014. Renwick – Overview. Sydney: UrbanGrowth NSW.



Type of project
Scale of project
Local Area