The WA Local Government Association
Western Australia | Urban
Residents have access to employment opportunities in the surrounding Centres and Business Parks via a dedicated bus transit way. The North-West Rail Link, which is currently under construction and expected to be operational in 2019, will link Rouse Hill to major Centres including Epping, Chatswood, and the Sydney CBD. Through an emphasis on energy and water conservation, ‘green’ travel, and community development, the New Rouse Hill has potential to provide significant co-benefits for the health and wellbeing of residents.
The New Rouse Hill site resides in Sydney’s North-West Growth Centre. In 2002, Lendlease was selected as the master developer for the site, while GPT Group was engaged for the development and ongoing management of the Town Centre. From the onset, the objective of the project was to deliver a sustainable regional centre, through the early provision of retail and services and incorporation of environmentally sustainable design elements in the neighbourhood structure, housing design, and water and energy systems, as well as providing a pedestrian friendly environment. On completion, the neighbourhood will comprise up to 1,800 dwellings, 200,000 square metres of retail and commercial space, and 32 hectares of public open space. The development features a range of dwelling types including apartments, terraces and freestanding homes.
The New Rouse Hill was one of four sites included as a case study in a research project undertaken from 2011-2016 by the Healthy Built Environments Program at the University of New South Wales, in partnership with the Heart Foundation, UrbanGrowth NSW and the South-Western Sydney Local Health District. The objective of the study, Planning and Building Healthy Communities, was to explore and further understand the role the built environment plays in facilitating physical activity, social interaction and access to healthy food.
Overall, the research showed that the New Rouse Hill provided the broad elements of healthy living such as: the opportunity to engage in active transport modes; an environment that is pleasantly walkable and with local destinations; is conducive to exercise and incidental social interaction; provides a choice of recreation facilities; and a wide range of options to source fresh food.
The Rouse Hill Town Centre is the heart of the neighbourhood, providing access to apartment living, retail and commercial outlets, fresh food, entertainment, services and community facilities. There are several types of recreational facilities and green spaces across the neighbourhood, including an all abilities playground. The playground is co-located with a range of community facilities, including a Community Room, tennis courts, basketball courts, pool, Information Centre and community garden.
There are two schools in The New Rouse Hill, as well as a preschool and child care centre. While residents are well served by the Rouse Hill Town Centre, there is also access via the rapid bus transitway (T-Way) to other important employment, retail and service nodes in the region, such as Castle Hill, Blacktown and Kellyville and Norwest Business Park.
The wider suburb of Rouse Hill, and the surrounding areas, are typical of outer-suburban, low-density locations in terms of car dependence. Consequently, UrbanGrowth NSW, Lendlease and GPT Group have made significant efforts to provide opportunities for recreational walking and cycling, and encourage use of active travel modes and public transport. This was formalised through a Travel Demand Management Package. A levy of $3 million was provided by Lendlease and GPT Group to fund travel demand management initiatives, such as a Green Travel Plan (See Environmental Values), and an additional $16 million was invested in the development of a bus transit interchange, walking and cycling infrastructure connecting the residential precincts and the Town Centre, bicycle parking, and vehicle traffic reduction schemes.
Interviews and focus groups with some residents have provided insight into how these elements have worked in practice. While satisfaction with the neighbourhood, infrastructure and facilities was high among study participants, self-reported levels of incidental physical activity via active transport were low. Participants reported that their journey to work was characterised by a lack of viable public transport options, although it is hoped that this will be significantly addressed when the North-West Rail link opens in 2019. Direct walking and cycling routes to the planned railway station will be vital for encouraging incidental physical activity.