Six years after a ground-breaking study analysing the well-being of 1,800 people about to move into 74 new Perth metropolitan housing estates, researchers from The University of Western Australia are set to re-interview those surveyed in 2004 to find out how they feel about their neighbourhoods in 2010.
Lead researcher Winthrop Professor Billie Giles-Corti, Director of UWA's Centre for the Built Environment and Health, said the Healthway-funded study, RESIDE II, will assess how neighbourhood design affects residents' physical and mental health. The information will be used to inform policy-makers and developers planning new housing as the nation faces a rapidly growing population coupled with environmental pressures.
RESIDE II will involve almost three-quarters of the initial respondents who in 2004 had an average age of 40, were typically parents, worked more than 37.5 hours a week and spent a considerable amount of time commuting.
Residents will be asked to fill out a questionnaire covering aspects of their neighbourhoods including their use of pedestrian and bike paths, safe walking/cycling access to schools and amenities, food outlets, safety, graffiti, public lighting, public open spaces and parks, sporting facilities, pet ownership, neighbourhood aesthetics and community involvement. They will also be given a pedometer to monitor their daily walking. Their weight will be recorded and their mental health and eating behaviours assessed via standard measures.
"We will use all this information to enable government bodies to make the right decisions about how to intensify housing density while also providing residents with a good lifestyle," W/Professor Giles-Corti said.
On the northern, southern and eastern fringes of the metropolitan area, the 73 neighbourhoods are a mix of 18 estates created via the new ‘Liveable Neighbourhood Guidelines', with the remainder a blend of conventional and hybrid plans.
"RESIDE II is unique internationally because it involves a long term follow-up of new home builders and a strong partnership with policy-makers and practitioners working in health, planning and transport," W/Professor Giles-Corti said. "Its results will inform the planning, design and use of the built environment to improve health."