Information and resources for professionals on the Heart Foundation’s position on urban density for physical activity and health outcomes.
'Increasing density in Australia: maximising the benefits and minimising the harm'
The Heart Foundation commissioned the Centre for the Built Environment, University of WA to conduct a literature review into the impact of density on health. The evidence review was to address the following:
- the intended and unintended consequences of increased density
- the meaning of ‘good’ density from a health perspective, and
- the types of amenity associated with positive health and physical activity outcomes in areas of high residential density
You can download a summary version of the report or, alternatively the full version here.
What is density?
The concept of density is complex. It is defined in numerous ways globally and differently by different disciplines. Put simply, density is the number of units (people, dwellings, employees, trees) per unit of land area.
What is the impact of density on health?
The impact of density on a range of health outcomes and across the life course was considered including: mortality, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, road traffic mortality, respiratory health, and mental health.
Conclusions and recommendations?
Increasing housing density, when done well, has the potential to produce numerous benefits to the environment and the community by:
- increasing the use of active modes of transport and public transport
- reducing vehicle miles travelled
- improving air quality
- reducing traffic congestion
- providing more affordable housing closer to amenity
- reducing the footprint of cities by reducing the amount of space required for each person
Three main factors are important:
- building (i.e. location, construction, design, management and maintenance)
- the socioeconomic and cultural make up of residents in the local neighbourhood
- quality and amenity of the neighbourhood environment
What can I do?