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A health map for urban planners: Towards a conceptual model for healthy, sustainable settlements

Barton, Hugh


Hugh Barton


The environment in which we live is a significant determinant of health. Yet in some ways we are literally building unhealthy conditions into the fabric of our cities, and the profession charged with planning the urban environment currently lacks a conceptual framework for integrating health into spatial planning decision-making. Taking sustainable development as its starting point, this paper examines the logic of adopting a human ecology perspective on settlements. It argues that the human dimension of such theories (and related practice) is underplayed, and proposes a new conceptual model of settlements that puts human health and well-being at its heart. The model combines an ecosystem analysis which expresses the relationship between people and their environment with a public health approach which identifies the relevant social/environmental determinants of well-being. The paper shows how this 'ecosystem health map' can assist with the theory and practice of urban planning.


Barton, H. (2005). A health map for urban planners: Towards a conceptual model for healthy, sustainable settlements. Built Environment, 31(4), 339-355.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 20, 2005
Journal Built Environment
Print ISSN 0263-7960
Publisher Alexandrine Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 4
Pages 339-355
Keywords urban planning, health, sustainable settlements
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Sole author. Paper linking health and planning theory, working towards a conceptual model of settlements. Modified form presented to UK PHA WHO Healthy Cities Forum, UHPHA Annual Forum, 2006, the 7th International HIA Conference, 2006, and WHO Healthy Urban Planning seminar 2007. Quoted by Department for Health in practice advice.

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