Living on the fringe can make people sick

March 20, 2012

Uncategorized

Living on the fringe can make people sick

March 15, 2012

OPINION

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Public health must be an objective of urban planning.

AFFORDABLE housing is something that every state government likes to say it has delivered, and every opposition likes to say is no longer attainable. The prospect that home ownership might slip from the grasp of most people is so potent a political threat that in recent decades governments of both persuasions have yielded to pressure from developers to release cheap new land on the urban fringe.

As we report today, however, the relentless expansion of the urban boundary is itself imposing a massive cost on taxpayers, in the form of chronic health and social problems in the new suburbs.

In evidence presented to the Legislative Council’s environment and planning committee, outer suburban councils have presented an alarming picture of poorly planned housing developments without basic community services. In parts of the City of Wyndham in Melbourne’s west – the fastest growing municipality in Australia in percentage terms – people have either no or very little access to public transport, coupled with insufficient parkland and leisure facilities.

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The consequence is that they have to use cars for even the simplest trips outside the home. For some residents, a visit to the nearest swimming pool might take 1½ hours on public transport, compared with 15 minutes by car. Some areas are even poorly supplied with supermarkets and other sources of fresh food, making residents reliant on service stations and fast-food outlets.

via Living on the fringe can make people sick.

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