Spatial mapping, that is placing attributes found in the community on maps, can be a useful tool to help inform local government decision making that relates to the physical, mental, social and environmental wellbeing of local residents.

Council has partnered with the Heart Foundation in a project to better understand how the built environment in neighbourhoods and towns impacts on how residents access healthy food across the municipality.

This project, which is unique in Tasmania, spatially mapped a variety of community attributes and consulted with the community to gauge how these attributes impact on their access to healthy food.

Council’s own asset data and geospatial mapping expertise was used, and existing analysis frameworks and peer reviewed literature informed the selection of assets for mapping.

The report includes a series of municipality-wide maps as well as localised maps for three pilot locations (Risdon Vale, South Arm/Opossum Bay, and Warrane/Mornington). The team sought feedback on the maps from Council’s advisory groups as well as resident’s experience of how the built environment impacts on their access to healthy food.

The project revealed a number of key findings:

  1. Access to shops that sell healthy food can be challenging for local residents
  2. Local amenity, walkability and physical access to the shops all impact on the ability to access healthy food.
  3. Residents frequently travel out of their neighbourhood or town to do their shopping as healthy food is limited or unaffordable where they live
  4. Residents use a variety of strategies to access healthy food and local businesses. Community support (including shared transport solutions) and home delivery are often extremely helpful.
  5. Ensuring that communities have reasonable access to healthy food options has implications for spatial planning, development of assets and asset renewal. Considerations include how to actively improve planning in relation to food access, and ongoing assessment of how spatial planning and asset decisions may impact a community’s ability to access healthy food sources.

From here, the challenge for Council work groups will be to consider a community’s capacity to access healthy food sources and options when conducting spatial planning exercises such as structure planning. For example, Council’s Lauderdale Structure Plan is a long term plan for the use and development of Lauderdale. It is specifically a spatial plan and deals with issues in a broad framework for actions.

The impact on access to healthy food is also highly relevant to the management of assets such as the design, usage and allocation of infrastructure like roads, footpaths, lighting, seating, and public toilets.

The report could prove useful when food security issues are considered in the future. Council will study the project findings and recommendations and look at ways to incorporate the information into regular business. Some retro-fitting may also need to be considered.

To read the report, click here.

If you would like more information about the project, contact Clarence City Council’s Community Planning and Development Officer, Suzanne Schulz on or 6217 9599.