New South Wales Public Health Bulletin New South Wales Public Health Bulletin Society
Supporting public health practice in New South Wales

Can the impact on health of a government policy designed to create more liveable neighbourhoods be evaluated? An overview of the RESIDential Environment Project

Billie Giles-Corti A F , Matthew Knuiman A , Terri J. Pikora A , Kimberly Van Neil B , Anna Timperio C , Fiona C. L. Bull D , Trevor Shilton E and Max Bulsara A

A School of Population Health, University of Western Australia

B School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, University of Western Australia

C Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University

D Adjunct Appointment, School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia and Reader, School of Exercise & Sports Sciences, Loughborough University

E National Heart Foundation, Subiaco, WA

F Corresponding author: Email:

NSW Public Health Bulletin 18(12) 238-242
Published: 6 December 2007


There is growing interest in the impact of community design on the health of residents. In 1998, the Western Australian Government began a trial of new subdivision design codes (i.e. Liveable Neighbourhoods Community Design Code) aimed at creating pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods to increase walking, cycling and public transport use. The trial provided a unique opportunity for a natural experiment to evaluate the impact of a government planning policy on residents. Nevertheless, evaluations of this kind present a number of methodological challenges in obtaining the highest quality evidence possible. This paper describes the RESIDential Environment Project’s study design and discusses how various methodological challenges were overcome.


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