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Potential planning measures to reduce heart disease, mental illness and type 2 diabetes in residents living in highly urbanised environments will be explored in a new landmark study.

Landcom is partnering with the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Sydney and UNSW Sydney on the study to examine how future high-density developments can be planned with a focus on healthy living.

Landcom Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer John Brogden said the study, Translating Evidence to Support Planning Strategies for Healthier, Higher Density Living, would provide new knowledge and tools to address a significant gap in planning healthy higher density precincts.

“Landcom has been given the task by the NSW Government to improve housing affordability, supply and diversity, and deliver quality housing and communities that provide social and economic benefits to the people of NSW,” Mr Brogden said.

“As Sydney's population grows, the way we live is changing. There is a lack of research in Australia and around the world on what is needed to ensure people can live healthy, sustainable lives in an increasingly urbanised environment.

“There are a lot of questions we don't have the answers to. This research will help us learn how we can design our cities to benefit people's health.”

The projects is being led by UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures Associate Professor Jason Prior, UNSW Professor Susan Thompson, and Sydney University's Dr Jennifer Kent.

Thompson, Professor of Planning in UNSW's Faculty of Built Environment, said the study would look at existing research and examine recent Landcom high-density developments at Green Square and Victoria Park.

“This will build on some of the work that we have done here at UNSW on these localities, as well as creating healthy built environments more broadly,” said Thompson, who is Head of the City Wellbeing Program in the faculty’s City Futures Research Centre.

There are a lot of questions we don't have the answers to. This research will help us learn how we can design our cities to benefit people's health.

“I am delighted to be collaborating on the project, which comes at a pivotal point in Sydney’s development history. As apartment living becomes the norm for more and more of us, it is critical that planners and designers know how to make such developments supportive of healthy lifestyles.

“We know that the way we live in cities has an enormous impact on our health. The more we can incorporate being active and socially connected into the environments we encounter and use every day, we reduce our risk for chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression. This research will help to generate the evidence policy makers, planners and urban designers need to make this happen.”

The study is expected to take about two and a half years to complete, and findings will be progressively released through Landcom's annual conference CoLab, which reports on the organisation's research findings and learning activities.

The project is funded through Landcom's University Roundtable Research Program, established in 2016 to champion multi-disciplinary and collaborative learning that focuses on complex urban challenges and innovation in planning for sustainable development.