This page includes information on planning for healthy environments including historical materials designed to assist Councils in developing their Municipal public health and wellbeing plans.

Planning for healthy environments

The Public Health and Wellbeing Act requires Municipal public health and wellbeing plans to be consistent with the Council Plan and the Municipal Strategic Statement/ Municipal Planning Scheme.

Each municipality in Victoria is covered by a planning scheme that regulates the use, development and protection of the land. Land use design can support safe, socially cohesive and inclusive communities and healthy lifestyles. This includes pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods, accessible open spaces for recreation and leisure, networks of high quality cycling paths conveniently located public transport and food environments that encourage healthy diets.

Environments in which people live, work, study and have their recreation can be designed or altered to increase physical activity, healthy eating, and safety and wellbeing.
Influence over the built environment is considered a key preventive health strategy in encouraging healthy physical activities such as cycling and walking.

There is also a growing evidence base linking the natural environment with good physical health and psychological wellbeing.

Healthy Active by Design is a website created by the Heart Foundation to highlight how best-practice planning and design of buildings, streets, towns and cities can improve Australians’ heart health. The website is a practical guide that offers evidence, advice and examples to assist with the development of healthy and active neighbourhoods.

Influence over social and economic environments is also important. Local councils play a critical role in communities across Victoria. They employ nearly 45,000 Victorians and deliver essential services that the community use every day.

With the introduction of the Gender Equality Act in March 2021, local councils are strongly encouraged to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of their communities through progressing gender equality in their workplaces and promoting gender equality in policies, programs and services that impact the public. Targeted advice is available to support local councils to comply with the Gender Equality Act.