The Urban Planning for Health project (UP4 Health) is a Health Promotion response to Australia’s long-term pattern of ‘unhealthy’ urban development. Suburban expansion in Australia, characterised by low density housing, poor public transport infrastructure and stand-alone retail centres, has created a car-dependent society with limited opportunities for physical activity and social interactions. There is a rapidly growing body of evidence demonstrating that this pattern of urban development is a key contributor to our nationwide health problems relating to obesity, tobacco and alcohol consumption.
UP4 Health provides a strategic platform for the Health sector to positively influence the population health outcomes of urban planning processes. The cornerstone of the project is the UP4 Health guide, which was developed to build the capacity of Population Health staff in making submissions on development proposals and plans as well as enhancing their knowledge of the links between health and planning. The guide provides a summary of the key areas that can be influenced, key recommendations for letters of submission and links to other relevant publications.
The UP4 Health project has prompted greater Health involvement in urban planning activities, ranging from broad projects such as the Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036 through to specific master plans and development applications. While it will take a number of years to see the end results of this groundwork, early achievements include the adoption of health-related objectives in key planning documents at both local and state level. These successes indicate that UP4 Health has the potential to contribute to healthier patterns of urban development in the future.
Miss Melissa Palermo, Northern Beaches Health Promotion – NSW Health
This paper will be presented at the Healthy Cities Conference in Noosa in Juy 2011