2012 Pet Friendly Planning Award winner announced

A PLANNING and design tool that encourages the consideration of dogs in public open spaces has won the inaugural 2012 Pet Friendly Planning Award, an initiative by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) and the Petcare Information Advisory Service (PIAS) to recognise planning projects that best consider the needs of pets.

The 'Matrix of Like Design Considerations', a tool that can be used to demonstrate synergies between guidelines that influence design in the built environment, was entered by the National Heart Foundation of Australia (SA Division).

According to PIA, the Judges were impressed by the Heart Foundation's entry as it incorporates pet friendly planning as part of good design that supports people being healthy in everyday living.

Associate Professor Susan Thompson, a member of the judging panel, said planning has to consider complex and sometimes conflicting needs of all members of society, including dog owners.

"We are living closer together in apartments and townhouses with smaller private outdoor areas. As a result, public parks are more important than ever because they have to meet multiple needs of city dwellers and their pets" Professor Thompson said.

"The Heart Foundation's matrix brings the key considerations together, including how to plan for pets and their owners in denser urban environments."

PIA National President Dyan Currie congratulated the Heart Foundation for its ongoing interest in planning and helping to create healthier places.

"The Heart Foundation worked closely with PIA in creating the Healthy Spaces and Places program to ensure better planned and healthier communities for the future", Ms Currie said.

"The planning, layout and design of our towns, cities, neighbourhoods and community spaces have a direct bearing on healthy communities. It's nice to see our pets are now being considered in healthy planning endeavours."

Heart Foundation Acting CEO, Wendy Keech, said the Heart Foundation was very proud to receive this award as dog ownership produces considerable health benefits and provides an important form of social support that encourages dog owners to walk.

"With the high level of dog ownership in Australia, the relationship between dog ownership and physical activity levels is important." Ms Keech said.

"With 67% of adults not doing the recommended amount of physical activity, these design considerations will encourage more people to be active, reducing their risk of heart disease – Australia's biggest single killer."

Two commendations awarded in the 2012 Pet Friendly Planning Awards went to the Hume City Council (Victoria) and the Onkaparinga City Council (South Australia).

The Judges said both local authorities provided good examples of how the provision of pet friendly places could be advanced, with their entries demonstrating extensive research, community engagement, and thorough consideration of the design that went into the development of enclosed dog parks.

The judging panel comprised:

  • Virginia Jackson: a Melbourne-based town planner and an international expert in pet friendly planning and the built environment;
  • Susan Thompson, Associate Professor and Director of the Healthy Built Environments Program at the University of NSW; and
  • Jason Black, National Board Director of the Planning Institute of Australia and Director of Insight Planning.

The $8,000 2012 Pet Friendly Planning Award was launched in July with an aim to recognise planners whose work encourages the social integration of pets in city precincts and public spaces.

The winning project will be officially launched by the Heart Foundation in December and showcased at the 2013 PIA National Congress in Canberra.

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