A world-first for Canberra – changes to territory plan for active living

New changes to the Territory Plan mean Canberrans can look forward to a healthier and more active city.

Under Variation 348, the Territory Plan now incorporates Active Living Principles, which is a world-first. Physical inactivity costs the Australian economy an estimated $13.8 billion per year.

“We’re the first city in the world to have comprehensively reviewed and incorporated Active Living Principles into our main statutory planning document – the Territory Plan,” said Tony Stubbs, CEO of Heart Foundation ACT.

“About half of all Canberrans are not active enough for their health. I commend the ACT Government on making these changes to the Territory Plan to help all Canberrans be more active in a way that is convenient, easy and enjoyable,” said Mr Stubbs.

"Active living" describes physical activity being a natural part of people’s daily routine. It means creating a built and natural environment to support active lives - an environment that is more connected, attractive, and accessible for people of all ages and abilities.

The six Active Living Principles are: connected places, open space, mixed land use and density, safe and attractive places, supportive infrastructure, and environments for all – which are in alignment with the design principles of Healthy Active by Design.

“We’re delighted to see the Territory Plan better supporting infrastructure for people to get to places where they live, work, learn, visit and play using active travel.

“People should be able to enjoy a tree-lined park, walk to school, ride to work, walk to their shops or a café if they want to – and it should all be easy. By design. They shouldn’t have to rely on a car. ”

Now, places like Kingston Foreshore, Franklin Recreational Park, suburbs of Forde and Crace, and South Quay Tuggeranong will be the ‘norm’. They set the benchmark for developments all across Canberra.

“For many Canberrans, this has been a long time coming,” said Professor Rachel Davey, Director of the Health Research Institute at the University of Canberra.

“As part of the research behind the Active Living Program, we found up to 40 per cent of Canberrans felt there were not adequate crossings and signals on busy roads, 25 per cent weren’t satisfied with lighting in their neighbourhood. Forty percent were not satisfied with the amount of shade in local parks. One third were not satisfied with park seating and playgrounds’ cleanliness and safety, whilst others said public transport took too much time and was too complicated,” said Professor Davey.

Karen Wright, President of the ACT Planning Institute of Australia and former planning manager and advisor at the National Capital Authority and Capital Metro Agency, said, “I am delighted about some of the changes that we will begin to see under changes to the Territory Plan. Changes include a revised Statement of Strategic Directions, updated codes and defined active living principles. ”

“This will only further strengthen our reputation as the world’s best city. Canberra already has the world’s highest quality of living, according to research company Numbeo, and we are in the top three cities to visit, according to Lonely Planet. Locals can be proud of their community, and look forward to the future,” said Ms Wright.

The Heart Foundation (ACT) continues to work with the ACT Government to improve the built and natural environment to build a healthier city through the Active Living Program. The program has included research, advocacy, education and now, legislative change. The Heart Foundation will now work with the ACT Government, the community and local industry to promote awareness and the uptake of active living to the community in the ACT.

Head to our Case Studies section to see Active Living principles in action.