Reuniting Planning and Health

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Resource 1: What are the links between health and planning?

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Explores the links between health and planning, the role planners have to reduce health inequalities, and the financial benefits of better integration

For 150 years the influence of the environment on human health has shaped the planning of towns and cities. The public health and planning professions were born out of a joint recognition that environmental elements such as improved housing and sanitation were crucial for combating the greatest burdens of disease.

The major health challenges for the United Kingdom in the 21st century continue to be influenced by where we live. For example, how an environment is designed will influence whether people can walk and cycle conveniently and get easy access to healthy food. A lack of physical activity and eating too much energy dense food are two of the contributing factors to the escalating rates of obesity (see the latest NISRA statistics for the biggest causes of death in Northern Ireland).

The health map below illustrates these environmental determinants: an individual’s health is influenced by how isolated or connected they are, the money they have to spend, the design of the local streets and the quality of their natural environment, for example the air they breathe. Planning has a direct or indirect influence on all these different layers.

Barton and Grant Health Map

The Barton and Grant health map: an individual’s neighbourhood includes a number of factors that will influence their health and wellbeing

The table below explains these planning influences by identifying how improving different aspects of a place can help to meet public health priorities too.

Placed-base responses

Place-based response to priority public health objectives

Source: Planning Healthier Places (TCPA, 2013)

The following resources are good places to start for finding out more information about the links between planning and health: