Grid-like street patterns to promote connectivity, maximum block lengths, provision of footpaths, provisions of parks or open spaces and provision of street trees are amongst new requirements for residential subdivisions throughout Queensland as the Government in that state seeks to make neighbourhoods more friendly for active transport modes such as walking and cycling.
From September 28, the Planning (Walkable Neighbourhoods) Amendment Regulation 2020 will amend the Planning Regulation 2017 to ensure that new applications for residential subdivisions in Queensland are assessed against benchmarks which are designed to ensure that residents are able to easily move around on foot.
The benchmarks are:
- Connectivity for pedestrians through new roads which are constructed in connection with a subdivision being connected in a grid-like pattern or layout which responds to the local landscape
- New blocks being no more than 250 meters in length or less if deemed necessary by local assessment criteria
- Provision of footpaths on at least one side of local neighbourhood roads and on both sides of main streets
- Blocks being located within 400 meters of a park or open space
- Provision of at least one street tree for every fifteen meters on each side of the road.
The new requirements come amid the release of two documents which are designed to help in the creation of neighbourhoods which are walkable and that support active communities.
The first is the Model Code for Neighbourhood Design, which provides a set of example provisions that support active communities and can be used by local councils when setting their own planning scheme.
The second and more detailed document is the final copy of the Street Design Manual for Walkable Neighborhoods prepared by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) in conjunction with the Government.
Designed to help engineers, designers, planners and others involved in the planning of greenfield residential development, the 156 page document outlines planning and design guidelines, detailed design guidelines and practice notes on measures which can assist residents within neighbourhoods to walk, cycle, exercise, interact, access local parks/open space and move about.
It covers community design, open space networks, lot design, activity centres, design of residential streets, active transport, public transport, landscaping, walkable and legible neighbourhoods, lot typology, design for small lots, design for cyclists, verges and traffic volumes.
In a statement, Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the new requirements would deliver neighbourhoods which facilitate walking and active transport.
Whilst the government has been looking at ways to promote active and healthy communities since July 2019, Dick says COVID-19 has further changed the way Queenslanders live, work and connect.
“The COVID-19 restrictions were put in place early to protect Queenslanders and the economy and we have all experienced how our neighbourhood design supports walkability and access to local parks and open spaces.” Dick said.
“Mr Dick said the Queensland Government began looking at how effective planning and investment in community infrastructure could support more active and healthy communities in July 2019.
“Prior to the pandemic, we undertook extensive community consultation about how effective neighbourhood design could support community health and wellbeing.
“Now more than ever as we Unite and Recover from COVID-19, implementing these changes will mean that we design and build better communities and ensure local neighbourhoods have the fundamentals — such as footpaths, street trees, nearby parks and open space.” Mr Dick said.
Queensland Walks President Michelle Wade said the importance of green space and walkable friendly neighbourhoods should not be underestimated.
During the recent Queensland Walks’ Week 2020, Wade says many in the community shared examples of how walking enables them to enjoy simple things such as green space and fresh air along with the importance of walk-friendly neighbourhoods for social connection and mental wellbeing.