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Health prominence lifted for Western Bay’s urban development

Friday 27 October, 2017
Health prominence lifted for Western Bay’s urban developments following new agreement

Putting health to the fore when planning new urban developments is a significant outcome of a recently-signed agreement says one regional healthcare leader.

A multiple agency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) represents the first time healthcare has played such a prominent role in planning major new housing developments said Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) Chief Executive Helen Mason.

“Healthcare is only one part of what determines our health,” said Mrs Mason. “It is becoming more widely understood that the modern urban environment impacts on our health, be that in a mental or physical way; such things as transport, land use and housing have a significant impact.

“For example there is a large body of research showing that communities with greater access to cycling and walking opportunities, social destinations close to home (e.g. schools, workplaces, shops and reserves) and affordable quality housing have better health and wellbeing outcomes. We hope to bring this lens to the partnership.”

The Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty Collaborative Planning and Implementation MOU has been signed between Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB), NZ Transport Agency and Ministry of Education.

“The councils and NZTA collaborate all the time but the BOPDHB has not been part of this work,” said Mrs Mason. “This gives us a place at the table and an opportunity to be involved at an early stage in the structure planning of new communities; communities such as those being established in Papamoa East, Tauriko West and Omokoroa. That is something worth celebrating.

“We now have an opportunity to raise health opportunities and issues at an early stage and to provide input on the recommended health service infrastructure for our new communities.”

The MOU looks to “ensure new and existing communities are planned, designed and developed to create a sense of community for the people living, learning, working and playing within them”. A specific focus has been placed on: transport; health; education; land use and infrastructure planning (including provision of community facilities).

The MOU represents recognition of the mutual benefit of working in partnership for all its signatories. The parties recognise that in order to deliver successful communities and deliver on each organisation’s strategies, the following will need to be provided for:

· A balanced transport system which provides a variety of transport choices;
· education facilities (planning, funding and implementation); health services and facilities (planning, funding and implementation, with a focus in regard to collaboration between health service providers and enhanced community care);
· the principles, planning and policy setting considerations required to create liveable communities and healthy urban environments that promote well-being for all;
· the provision of community facilities.

The MOU has been signed at a time when there are a range of planning projects underway in both Tauranga City and the Western Bay of Plenty, including new/expanded urban growth areas and delivery of a more compact city.

ends

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