Healthy urban environments and placemaking

Place is an important determinant of health and wellbeing. This programme of work focuses on how different aspects of the urban environment shape health and health inequalities, as well as how participation in decision-making around places can be strengthened. Our past and present work includes:

  • Generating and synthesising evidence around the impact of the built environment on health and health inequalities
  • Working with partners to promote the inclusion of health and wellbeing principles in planning, housing and regeneration strategies and practice
  • Responding to consultations and calls for evidence on relevant plans and strategies
  • Using Health Impact Assessments (HIA) to assess the potential health and wellbeing impacts of plans and strategies
  • Testing approaches and toolkits which enable meaningful participation in decision-making around regeneration and planning practice
  • Supporting communities and organisations to become more resilient in the face of climate change

Healthy Urban Planning

Healthy Urban Planning arose from the World Health Organisation (WHO) European Healthy Cities Project, a long-term international development initiative aiming to place health high on the agenda of decision-makers in city governments across Europe.

Effective planning practice can have a major impact on the lives of people within cities. The conditions in which people live and work, their access to facilities and services, their lifestyle and their ability to develop strong social networks are key health determinants that are influenced by the plans, policies and initiatives of urban planners and related professionals.

Work undertaken has sought to strengthen the processes for building health considerations into ‘non-health’ policies and plans, to generate and synthesise evidence about the relationships between placemaking and health and to influence development decisions across a range of scales. The built environment and health: an evidence review provides a summary of the recent literature on the links between the built environment and health and wellbeing. 

Read our blog: Reflections on the ‘Human Scale’ – a film about designing cities for people.

Health Impact Assessment

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) provides a systematic approach for assessing the positive and negative health and wellbeing impacts of a policy, plan or initiative, including how sub-groups of the population may be differentially impacted. Examples of where HIA has been used to consider potential health impacts include the proposed City Development Plan, the draft East End Development Strategy and Glasgow’s Local Housing Strategy 2011-2016. 

Community led-approaches to placemaking

There continues to be a need to increase community participation in decision-making around neighbourhood issues. We have been involved in assessing the impacts and efficacy of a number of approaches which aim to strengthen participation in local decision-making, including Participatory Budgeting, Street Auditing and the community-led development of vacant and derelict land. The role of Participatory Budgeting (PB) was explored in Govanhill through the allocation of public funds to local people.

report on the effectiveness of the approach and the potential for PB to be rolled out more widely found that it was in keeping with the principles of community empowerment and localism, and that those involved valued the experience.  In Calton, a street audit was carried out to determine local priorities for the physical improvement of the area. These priorities were met with funding to deliver a series a number of small scale projects. An assessment of the effectiveness of the street audit was undertaken in 2013, and key lessons from the approach were summarised in a briefing paper

Local participation and leadership around neighbourhood regeneration has been possible through the delivery of Glasgow City Council’s Stalled Spaces initiative. Local groups are invited to bid for funding to develop plots of vacant and derelict land on a temporary basis. Research was undertaken with Stalled Spaces participants to assess the individual and community impacts of this funding. 

Weathering Change: Community resilience in the face of climate change

Weathering Change was an action research project delivered by the GCPH, Sniffergreenspace scotland and Glasgow City Council (GCC). Project partners explored how people and organisations in north Glasgow could work together to become more resilient in the face of climate change and other future challenges.

Three neighbouring areas were chosen as the geographical focus of the project: Lambhill; Possilpark; and Milton. The project involved working with statutory and third sector organisations to identify community priorities, with climate change in mind. Key learning has been drawn different aspects of the project, including community consultation, the approach taken to the delivery of the project, ways of working and reflections on how to build community resilience in the face of climate change.

Recommendations offered are intended for: local and statutory organisations in north Glasgow working together to address identified challenges; practitioners or researchers undertaking similar work/projects; and policy-makers interested in community resilience in the face of climate change.