Heart Foundation ventures into town planning

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th March 2013

In a groundbreaking speech this week, a representative of the National Heart Foundation of Australia  told a national conference of planning professionals that agricultural land around Australian cities should be protected by city planners.

Dr Robert Grenfell, National Cardiovascular Health Director at the Heart Foundation said State governments should consider food production as part of their metropolitan planning strategies in order to provide better access to “fresh, nutritious, culturally appropriate and affordable food”.

The presentation was made at the 2013 Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) National Congress, held in Canberra 24-27 March. The conference was attended by planners, urban designers, architects, lawyers and health experts.

“For Australians to have good access to healthy food into the future we need to ensure valuable agricultural land is protected,” Dr Grenfell said.

“The design and layout of our urban environment has a major effect on whether people have physical and financial access to food. Cities should also plan for more dense populations, including in growing communities, to make local shops with healthy food, retail and foodservice and public transport infrastructure viable,” he said.

Dr Grenfell also said State governments should give local councils the power to make more healthy foods available in their local communities and limit the availability of unhealthy foods. He suggested that local councils might do this by controlling the number of fast food takeaway outlets close to schools.