Principle 6: Healthy and active

Public space allows everyone to participate in activities that strengthen our health and wellbeing.

Public space help people to interact and connect. They’re where we go to play or get active, or where we might take part in a team sport. They encourage us to go out for a walk or a cycle.

Cool, green spaces, nature trails, river and coastal walks and bushland can benefit mental health, reducing depression, anxiety and stress and improving memory and concentration. While people should have access to public space to seek out the company of others, there should also be plenty of comfortable, quiet spaces to sit and relax.

When more people are regularly walking or exercising, it helps to prevent serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and depression. This requires planning for wider, safer paths, well shaded and protected from traffic. Consider lighting, traffic crossings and traffic speeds that might make it easier and safer for people to walk or cycle.

In this way, we can also think of streets as public space – and think about the different functions of a street, not just as a carriageway for traffic or deliveries, but as places where people might gather, enjoy a coffee on the footpath or meet up with friends at the shops.

Always consider what children – and their families – need from public space.

This is an edited version of the charter. For the full text, please download: NSW Public Spaces Charter (PDF, 3.34 MB).