Healthy Spaces & Places Healthy Spaces & Places

Design Principles

Social Inclusion









Public places can support social, economic and cultural inclusion
Bondi Junction, Sydney, New South Wales

Source: SGS Economics and Planning

Social inclusion refers to a society where all people and communities are given the opportunity to participate fully in political, cultural, civic and economic life.

International research has shown that social inclusion can lead to greater social cohesiveness and better standards of health.  Designing facilities to encourage meeting and social interaction in communities can improve mental health. 

Cycling, walking and public transport can stimulate social interaction on the streets as well as have health benefits for residents.  Suburbs that depend solely on cars for access can isolate people without cars – particularly the young and old.  Social isolation and lack of community interaction are associated with poorer health.

How to Achieve

  • Consult with community, service providers, government agencies and the private sector about the type and level of facilities required in the community to support active living
  • Understand the demographic and cultural composition and needs of existing and future residents
  • Prepare a plan for the timely delivery of accessible, well integrated and flexible community services and social infrastructure including meeting spaces
  • Activity centres that will respond to the diverse needs of new and existing residents and are well located and integrated into the development in terms of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport
  • An interconnected network of pedestrian paths and on and off street bicycle paths throughout the community providing easy and convenient access to key locations and destinations (especially schools) within the community and adjacent neighbourhoods
  • Active and passive surveillance over the public realm
  • Walkable neighbourhoods and access to services and facilities that are designed for all users, including users with disabilities
  • Shared use of facilities such as ovals, community halls and meeting places to ensure a wide range of people can access facilities for active living and social connectedness
  • A mix of housing types and densities as well as a mixture of land uses to encourage a diverse population
Rule of thumb
Design places for active lifestyles and social interaction that also supports social inclusion in the community.


  • Public places that deliberately or inadvertently exclude certain users such as areas that are unsafe to walk
  • Providing facilities that do not meet the needs of the users such as skate board parks in areas where there is an ageing population
  • Communities that are fenced off or gated by physical or natural means

Click here for more detailed information on design and planning for Social Inclusion.

Download Full text
Social Inclusion.pdf


Principles for Social Inclusion in Australia

Australian Institute for Social Inclusion and Wellbeing

Design for Liveable Neighborhoods – Element 1 Community Design

Landcom Design Guidelines - Community Centre

Your Development  - Community Facilities

Related Design Principles
Environments for All People

Last updated on 1st April, 2011

Sponsors This project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.