Leveraging Health: The Urban Planner’s Dilemma

Fawcett, Peter
(2019) Leveraging Health: The Urban Planner’s Dilemma. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

[img] Text
200852389_Apr2019.pdf - Unspecified

Download (2MB) | Preview


In recent decades, a trend has emerged advancing the view that urban planning is a critical instrument for public health action. A popular concept now used to articulate this position is “healthy urban planning” (HUP). The concept of HUP adopts a human-centric philosophical perspective towards urban planning, one which emphasises human health and wellbeing. By positioning HUP and the urban planning-health interface as the point of departure, this thesis investigated the conceptual, epistemic and technical factors affecting the construction and mobilisation of the HUP concept, and the wider integration of health into urban planning. The study employed a qualitative, case study methodology with a social constructivist, postmodernist philosophy, acknowledging the multidimensional nature of knowledge and practice of urban planning within real socio-political contexts. The findings of the study reveal a funnel of contestation as one moves from the normative and policy spheres of HUP, within which its merits are not disputed, through to its theoretical and practical spheres, where conflict in meaning and understanding is both observable and arguably a natural response to the complex nature of the concept and its definition. The aim of HUP may appear straightforward and determined: to promote and not harm human health. However, such abstraction creates a binary that veils a complex relational web in which multiple structural, institutional and agential factors interact to construct novel interpretations of HUP and shape the relationship between health and urban planning. This research proposes that the concept of HUP does not have a discrete, universally accepted meaning. Instead, this same basic concept attracts multiple meanings. These meanings, moreover, do not simply vanish when contradicted by fact, authority, or competing theory, but often become more entrenched and their dismissal more vehemently resisted. There is, therefore, a need to view HUP as a “contested concept”, which far from lacking theoretical or policy-making purchase is valuable in promoting healthier forms of urban planning. In light of this, this thesis recommends that to secure the benefits of HUP in the long term there is a need to further clarify the concept’s definition, its use in urban planning practice, and to address the implications of both these aspects for research and theory development.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2020 14:39
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 00:00
DOI: 10.17638/03076471
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3076471