Over the next 20 years, it is estimated there will be over 180,000 new homes built across the county to accommodate the growing population. In advance of these developments, the Essex Planning Officers Association has updated the Essex Design Guide to include the principles of Active Design to the guidance offered to planners.
The concept of Active Design is to create environments where sport and physical activity are encouraged and are built into the heart of new communities and settings. Active Design includes creating walkable communities, connected cycleways and paths, accessible, well sign-posted and well-lit routes to work, school and shops as well as welcoming open spaces for recreational use.
Active Essex, the county sports partnership for Greater Essex, contributed to the new guidelines for Essex, using their understanding of the importance of sport and physical activity on health and wellbeing of local residents.
Commenting on the Essex Design Guide, Azeem Akhtar, chair, Active Essex said: “We are delighted that the importance of providing the right environments to support and encourage physical activity and sport are now being considered at the very early stages of town planning.
“With almost a quarter of the population in Essex considered inactive, there needs to be a step change in our approach to getting more people across the county active.”
Active Essex is currently spearheading a strategy to change 1 million lives in Essex by getting the county active. This strategy is being boosted by the county’s recent selection to be part of Sport England’s pioneering new pilot to tackle inactivity at a local level. The Essex Local Delivery Pilot will take place in Basildon, Colchester and Tendring.
The inclusion of Active Design in the Essex Design Guide is an example of the county’s new ‘whole system change’ approach that was central to Essex’s bid for the Local Delivery Pilot. This means that there will be closer working across Essex County Council, local councils, partners and organisations to ensure the needs of local residents are met now and in the future.
Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, commented on the Essex Design Guide: “We want everyone to have the opportunity to lead more active, healthier lifestyles and design plays a vital role in enabling this. Addressing inactivity is a priority for Sport England and can be tackled by designing developments to make being active the everyday choice through the use of Active Design principles.”
Charles Johnston added; “We’re delighted to have been able to work closely with partners in Essex and see these principles embedded into the updated Essex Design Guide.”
The 2018 version of the Guide is available at www.essexdesignguide.co.uk
For more information about Active Essex, visit www.activeessex.org