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Clarifying the Connections Between Urban Planning, Land Use Policy, and Health Disparities

Larissa Larsen, Gerrit Knaap, Zorica Nedović-Budić, and Brendan Williams

September 2022, English

While the disciplines of urban planning and public health originated together to improve the living and working conditions of the urban poor, over the last century, urban planning’s focus has shifted away from health. While we believe that many plans, programs, and policies relate to health and could reduce health disparities, we lack the ability to clearly communicate the points of connection. This paper has two purposes. The first purpose was to assemble and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of existing conceptual frameworks that identify connection points between urban planning and health equity. After conducting a quasi-scoping survey of literature, we identified nine existing conceptual frameworks. We evaluated each framework using seven criteria, including Corburn’s four political frames. The second purpose was to propose a new conceptual framework that highlights how both people and place-based interventions can affect housing; heath behaviors; health care; economic stability and opportunity; the built environment; and the natural environment. By translating our new conceptual framework into a decisionmaking tree, we used it to explain the health impacts of four planning interventions. We conclude by noting the challenge and importance of this task.


Development, Economic Development, Environment, Inequality, Planning, Pollution, Poverty, Public Policy