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Community Design - Neighbourhoods

Neighbourhood design that uses a mixed land use approach brings housing, commercial, industrial, employment, recreational and cultural land uses within close proximity to each other. This allows people to easily access services and destinations that are needed for daily living which follows the Traditional Neighbourhood Development model of organizing and planning a healthy community.1 2

A neighbourhood with these features is sometimes called a complete community. Complete communities can also improve socialization, reduce crime and provide a sense of place and belonging for those who live there.3


A complete community includes:

  • a variety of housing types and densities
  • commercial sites
  • healthy food sources
  • services (medical, social, etc.)
  • educational opportunities (schools, etc.)
  • employment options
  • transportation options
  • high quality public spaces (recreation, cultural, etc)

Complete communities are supported through a process called placemaking.

What is Placemaking?

Placemaking is an urban design process aimed at creating communities that offer a distinct character, a strong sense of community, an environment for healthy lifestyles and a high quality of life.3 4 When community stakeholders work together to identify and shape their neighbourhood, it fosters a sense of place and belonging that can not only strengthen social interaction but create strong, sustainable communities.

Two particularly important features of creating a complete community include:

  1. opportunities to use active transportation and
  2. healthy food access through the local food environment


People meeting at table

“… the fundamental role of the neighbourhood in building community and providing the essential services for daily life cannot be overstated.”
Healthy Communities Practice Guide (2014), p.9


Active Transportation

By having a mix of land uses within a neighbourhood, a complete community supports the use of active modes of transportation such as walking, cycling or public transit by having destinations close together. Complete communities are also connected to the larger community beyond its’ borders through a network of mobility options, including not only roads but sidewalks, bicycle lanes, multi-use paths and public transit.3

Healthy Food Access

Having access to healthy food is a basic quality of a complete community. Community food security means that all people have safe and nutritious food.” 5

For example, the official plan for the City of London, Ontario, includes city building policies that address the availability of healthy and affordable food options and supports the following aspects of the food system6:

  • growing / producing food
  • food processing
  • food distribution

Neighbourhood food source options can include:

  • grocery stores
  • farmers’ markets
  • community gardens
  • rooftop gardens
  • food banks
  • school programs
  • food co-operatives
  • on-street food markets

Learn about community resources for food and healthy eating.

Date of creation: November 24, 2016
Last modified on: May 13, 2022


1Duany, A. (2005). SmartCode: A Comprehensive Form-Based Planning Ordinance. Retrieved from
2Canadian Institute of Planners. (2014). Healthy Communities Practice Guide. Retrieved from
3BC Centre for Disease Control. (2018). Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit: making the links between design, planning and health, Version 2.0. Vancouver, B.C.: Provincial Healthy Services Authority, 2018. Retrieved from
4City of London. (2007). City of London Placemaking Guidelines. London, ON: City of London.
5Dietitians of Canada. (2017). Community Food Security. Retrieved from
6City of London. (2016). The London Plan – City Building Policies: Food System. Retrieved from