You’d be forgiven for asking if living in some parts of New South Wales is actually good for your health.

In the past 18 months Australia’s most populous state has been challenged like never before.

Unprecedented bushfires, a global pandemic and recent flooding have posed huge questions, which sit alongside other 21st-century challenges such as increasing loneliness, rising levels of obesity and unequal access to affordable, healthy food options.

Research has shown where you live shapes how easy it is to make social connections, keep physically active, enjoy green spaces and buy healthy food. The evidence is clear. But how do we create places that help promote good health and well-being for all?

In line with recent reforms, the NSW government has put delivering healthy and thriving communities at the heart of a new consolidated Design and Place State and Environmental Planning Policy.

According to the government’s planning website, the policy will apply to the creation of places at all scales: “from precincts to significant developments and buildings, to infrastructure and public spaces”.

But our newly published research shows it’s not easy to deliver healthy places.

In particular, it shows the practitioners responsible for making healthy places—from designers and planners to community service providers—just don’t have the regulatory framework they need to achieve the results now demanded.

Our report highlights the stark realities of implementation falling short of rhetoric. Those designing this policy need to understand the realities built environment practitioners face.

This study was prompted by similar research by the UK Design Council. That study found a critical gap between aspirations for places that support healthy living and the actual delivery of those places. We sought to find out whether built environment practitioners in NSW experience similar problems.

▲ The authors' research shows it’s not easy to deliver healthy places.

What did the study find?

We conducted a state-wide survey to better understand any barriers, as well as enablers, these professionals face in making healthy places and how any challenges can be overcome.

About 350 practitioners from Greater Sydney and regional NSW responded, just before the 2020 global pandemic. Forty-two took part in a follow-up workshop in late 2020 to further explain their key needs, priorities and recommendations.

The participants were heavily drawn from the strategic planning profession and the local government sector. Nearly half had more than 10 years’ experience.

Six out of 10 said they incorporate health and well-being into their everyday language and in documents they deliver. However, we found a clear lack of interaction across the different professions involved in place-making, as well as with those in health promotion.

Read more: Developers fear planning reforms will add complexity

Surprisingly, only one in five directly engage with the local community about how to improve people’s health in their area. Yet collaborative work and local insights are crucial for the success of any place-making project.

We asked what barriers professionals faced to ensure delivery of healthy places against other competing interests.

The most common responses (identified by over two-thirds of those surveyed) were: a lack of regulatory requirements, a lack of clarity as to who is responsible, and developers lack motivation to provide healthy places of their own accord.

But the greatest barrier of all (cited by 68 per cent) was the lack of prioritised budgets for making healthier places.

We undertook the study with the South West Sydney Local Health District, with funding from Maridulu Budyari Gumal and support from Planning Institute Australia NSW and the Heart Foundation.

Public health needs must shape policy

As the government develops its new policy, it can be bolstered by the call from our respondents for stronger statutory mechanisms. A strong consensus was that only through stricter planning regulations and policy frameworks will health outcomes finally be integrated into planning, urban design and construction standards.

Another pertinent finding was that government guidance is not widely consulted. Many resources are available, but very few respondents regularly made use of them or recommended them to colleagues.

A notable exception was the NSW government architect’s Better Placed design policy—69 per cent referred to and recommended it. This bodes well for the new policy, with the government architect to oversee its delivery.

Our research has a bearing on two key government needs and aspirations: the creation of better places to live and work , and a progressive reduction in future public health costs through supporting healthy population lifestyles, as suggested in a recent Treasury background paper for the next NSW Intergenerational Report.

The final policy is due to go on exhibition later in 2021. This will allow for further public feedback.

We advocate that everyone takes up this opportunity. Let us properly shape this review and help ensure NSW is truly a healthy state to live in.

The health of individuals and communities needs to be strongly embedded in state legislation. COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of putting health at the centre of all that we do, and in all states and territories.



No. 24 Stanley St at Tempe was a standout auction on Saturday.

A Californian bungalow in an unliveable state has scored the vendor a financial windfall after selling for $1.2m at a pressure cooker auction that saw 18 buyers register.

The price was not only $300,000 above reserve, but was $280,000 more than what the seller paid for 24 Stanley St at Tempe a year ago when it resembled a house. After stamp duty, this equates to the owner pocketing over $4000 for each week they owned the house.

Agent Tony Day said the owner had gutted the home ahead of a planned renovation before deciding to sell it.

The interiors were completely dilapidated with the ceiling missing, floors covered in dirt and a room without walls or a roof. The bathroom had a half used pack of toilet paper, cracked walls, mud in the bathtub and dirt everywhere.

A total of 18 parties registered with eight bidders taking part after the auctioneer opened proceedings at $900,000.

The auction lasted for about 20 minutes despite the first $200,000 worth of bids increasing in increments of up to $50,000.

After the home was called to market at $1.150m, the action dried up, with the last three parties trading $1000 bids for all but four offers placed in the final $50,000 of bidding. The house sold for $1.2m to a couple who plan to complete the renovation and add an extension. reveals the sale price is only $50,000 below the median house price in Tempe.

Mr Day said it was an incredible result considering the home looked to be in a far better state a year ago.

A room past this door has been completely demolished.

“For it sell for nearly $300,000 more than a year ago, and in this condition is a sign of just how strong the market remains,” he said.

Mr Day said he received more than 120 inquires over the campaign ranging first homebuyers to developers and builders.

In a heritage conservation zone, the buyers will have to ensure the renovation retains character features such as the facade.



News, Features & Profiles



July 27, 2020

The NSW government has pushed to temporarily pause stamp duty for first home buyers purchasing newly-built properties in a bid to bolster the state’s ailing construction industry. On Monday premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the new scheme which she said would build on the $10,000 first-home owner grant which is accessible to those purchasing a home worth less than $600,000 or for those building a home worth $750,000 or less. The stamp duty concession sees the threshold for stamp duty increased from $650,000 to $800,000. For homes worth between $800,000 and $1 million, the concession gradually phases out. NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the changes would save first home-buyers up to $31,335 on a new $800,000 home and up to $15,668 on a new $900,000 home. The $78 million stamp duty relief package will also apply, on a scaled basis, to newly-built homes valued between $800,000 and $1 million as well as to vacant land worth up to $400,000. The NSW government hopes easing the burden of buying a newly-built property will stimulate the construction sector, which employs upwards of 400,000 workers across the state. 

The new scheme will apply to newly-built homes and vacant land and will last for one year from 1 August.

“Thousands of people will see their bank balances benefit from this change—it will help get more keys into more front doors of more new homes,” Berejiklian said. “It will also boost housing construction across NSW and support jobs in the building industry at a time when we need them more than ever before.” The unemployment rate in NSW rose to 6.9 per cent in June as the national rate hit a two-decade high. The chief executive of advocacy group Urban Taskforce, Tom Forrest, said the government’s approach to decision-making had worked well to date in dealing with the pandemic, but the same approach needed to be adopted in relation to the vexed issue of tax reform. “The problem with stamp duty and payroll tax is they are distortionary,” Forrest said. “They have the effect of creating a bias in the property market which slows down property transactions, and payroll tax is simply a tax on employment—it is nuts.” “[The Urban Taskforce] has publicly called for the abolition of stamp duty and its replacement with a broadly based land tax or an extension of the application of the GST.” NSW chief executive of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, Steve Mann, said the first homebuyer stamp duty relief package may not be enough to see significant recovery from Covid-19. “We need to see stimulus across a broad range of homebuyer profiles, including upsizers who need to accommodate family growth, downsizers who are looking to offload larger mortgages and investors who play an important function in our rental market,” Mann said. Housing Industry Association NSW executive director David Bare also weighed in, stating the scheme changes would create stamp duty arrangements that “better reflected” the price of new homes across the state. The NSW government has been looking to reform stamp duty as part of a major federal financial review commissioned last year by Perrottet and published earlier this month. The year-long review, led by former Telstra chief David Thodey and includes former New Zealand prime minister Bill English and former federal finance secretary Jane Halton, recommended stamp duty should be abolished, with homeowners given the option to opt-in to a land tax. The report also suggested that state governments, in consultation with the Commonwealth, consider options for lifting the GST rate and expanding its base over the medium to longer-term. Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has previously ruled out an increase in the GST, and said if the states wanted to embark on tax reform they would get no financial support from the government. NSW estimates stamp duty costs the state economy about $2.35 for every collected dollar in lost income, compared with an estimated 16 cent for an annual land tax.



July 12, 2025

The largest development opportunity to grace the inner west in more than a decade is set to see a 3.14ha industrial site transformed into high density apartments.

The two adjoining sites at 149-163 Milton St and 165 Milton St in Ashbury are being offered together or individually, and have been rezoned by Canterbury-Bankstown Council following a five-year process.

They back onto WH Wagener Oval and could house more than 350 dwellings made up with a mixture of townhouses and apartment blocks.

New Home


January 12, 2023

Aussie Millennials believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has given first-home buyers a much better chance to nab their first home, a new report has revealed.
One in two millennial home buyers (aged between 24 to 39) now feel that they can get the keys to their first home within the next one to two years as a result of a subdued property market.
• 59 per cent redirecting direct budgets towards savings.
• 37 per cent taking on a side job.
• 36 per cent moving back in with their parents.
• 50 per cent considering living further from their CBD (45km of more).
The report found many Millennials are also making many lifestyle sacrifices to fatten their savings.
This includes limiting personal spending, reducing dining out experiences, cutting back on recreational drinking, quitting their gym membership and dating less.
There are several government initiatives also on offer to help first-time buyers crack into the market including the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.
The second tranche opened up on July 1 and allows eligible borrowers with just a five per cent deposit saved up to crack into the market.