Evidence connecting urban design with health


What’s on this page

This page contains links to resources exploring how social value is connected to urban development, and evidence, tools and assessments linking health and health inequalities to the built environment. 

Social value

  • Social value in new development: An introductory guide for local authorities and development teams (2018): Social-Value.pdf (ukgbc.org)
  • Driving social value in new development: Options for local authorities (2019) Slide 1 (ukgbc.org)

Data, tools and assessments to explore the impact of the urban environment on health

  • Spatial planning for health: Evidence linking health and the built and natural environment, that has been designed to be accessible to a wide audience. Spatial Planning for Health: an evidence resource for planning and designing healthier places (publishing.service.gov.uk)
  • Evidence supporting cost/benefit analysis of incorporating health: Placemaking and value, RICS professional guidance, UK. Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, February 2016. ‘By analysing five case studies, this paper aims to understand the relationship between the various design features and delivery mechanisms of a large residential scheme, and the end-sales achieved. It distils which physical attributes, as well as which delivery approaches, can create a positive sense of place in a new residential development and how this can trigger higher values. It also looks at the value created upon release as a static comparison with other new build schemes in each of the locations, as well as trends in values over time.’  Placemaking and Value (rics.org)
  • HEAT for walking and cycling ‘is a user-friendly, web-based tool used to estimate the health and economic impacts of increased walking and cycling’. HEAT for walking and cycling (who.int)
  • ‘Food environment assessment tool (Feat) enables detailed exploration of the geography of food retail access across England, Scotland and Wales.It is designed around the needs of professionals in public health, environmental health and planning roles, locally and nationally.’ Feat (feat-tool.org.uk)
  • Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) for England and Wales, which provides an evidence base to inform cycling investment.’ Welcome to the Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT)
  • Health impact assessments and community health need assessments can be used for local health equity monitoring processes- helping to identify, understand, access, and measure inequities.
    • Wales HIA Support Unit, Health Impact Assessment (HIA) guidance website: ‘provides a resource to those currently practicing HIA, policy makers and those who are new to the process and who are looking for information and evidence. There are links to completed HIAs in Wales and other HIA activities from the Unit, for example training and information plus links to useful resources and guides.’ Home – Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (phwwhocc.co.uk)
    • WHO Urban Health Equity Assessment and Response Tool – Urban HEART

Impact of the urban environment on health inequalities

Those that live in the ‘least healthy’ urban areas are often those who suffer the most inequalities (economic, health, etc.) – so improving the quality of urban spaces can help to reduce inequalities.

How urban planning decisions affect different groups in the population in different ways – an intervention/ change might improve health for some while having no impact or making health worse for others. So we can prioritise changes that seek to improve conditions specifically for those who live in the worst conditions (rather than/ as well as changes that improve conditions for everyone). 

Challenges of green gentrification and health

  • Collection of research exploring how green initiatives can result in gentrification of neighbourhoods, and how this can impact health, well-being, and health pathways (e.g., physical activity, affordable housing). Green Gentrification and Health: A Scoping Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908481/
  • ‘Urban greening certainly provides economic, ecological, health, and social benefits to many, it may create new and deeper vulnerabilities and processes of green gentrification for historically marginalized residents – working-class groups, minorities, and immigrants – even in the many cases where interventions are meant to redress historic inequalities in the provision of parks or green spaces.’ (In)Justice in Urban Greening and Green Gentrification. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-031-22566-6_20 

Public data sources to support the identification of need in local areas

  • Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) datasets are small area measures of relative deprivation across each of the constituent nations of the United Kingdom. Areas are ranked from the most deprived area (rank 1) to the least deprived area. Deprivation (IMD) – DLUHC Open Data User Guides (opendatacommunities.org)
  • Census data: Socio-demographic information and data related to health and disabilities. Census – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
  • Joint strategic needs assessment: The purpose of Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies (JHWSs) is to improve the health and wellbeing results of the local community and reduce inequalities for all ages. ‘JSNAs will be the means by which local leaders work together to understand and agree the needs of all local people, with the joint health and wellbeing strategy setting the priorities for collective action. Taken together they will be the pillars of local decision-making, focusing leaders on the priorities for action and providing the evidence base for decisions about local services.’ JSNAs and JHWS statutory guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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