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Expert in urban design for healthy communities works with Council staff

30 November 2007

A specialist in designing urban environments to support and promote healthier communities has been working with Council staff to look at ways to make urban areas function better for people and the environment.

Stephanie Knox, a consultant planner from Melbourne and a board member of the Royal Australian Planning Institute, finished a two-day workshop with Council staff yesterday.

She is a project leader in the reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka following the Boxing Day Tsunami and has worked for eight years in Healthy Urban Environments, and the Planning for Health and Wellbeing project in Melbourne.

Stephanie is best known for helping planners incorporate design ideas into their everyday work that help positively enforce healthy options for people living in these areas.

For example, encouraging physical activity through design by providing more attractive, safe and practical walkways, green corridors, and cycleways to connect neighbourhoods encourages people to leave cars at home. Improving the public transport system to link popular destinations through a regular and reliable service also helps.

Stephanie’s presentation to the Canterbury-Westland Branch of the New Zealand Planning Institute on Tuesday focussed on strategic links between urban design and healthy communities, and the application of these principles to real projects.

Strategy Support Unit Manager, Jane Cartwright, said it was important for Council to begin looking at different options for design that encouraged healthy living, working and play to help reduce health issues in its communities.

“Greater Christchurch residents made it clear through the Urban Development  Strategy that councils should work on long-term plans for better-designed, healthier, and well-connected urban centres. This is just part of that work,” Ms Cartwright says.

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