Why Focus on Public Health?

The link between health and planning is clear.

community planning, community health, sustainable communities, food, wellness, affordable housing, transportation, public health


Marjorie Buchanan, Garlen Capita


Marguerite Anglin


Teresa Nguyen

Supporting a community’s health and well-being should be a part of all planning decisions. Land use, transportation, green space, park planning, affordable housing development, and other aspects of our work hold the potential to enhance or undermine public health. Planning efforts that create beautiful and sustainable environments can simultaneously create healthy conditions with opportunities for physical activity, access to healthy food, clean air, interaction with nature, protection from hazardous materials, safe streets and walkways, engagement with neighbors, and more. A proactive, integrated approach helps promote health and wellness at different scales of community. Incorporating public health into community planning and design can culminate in action to improve public health at the neighborhood, district, and even regional scales. Multi-sector collaboration requires the following steps:

  1. Establish partnerships across the public, private, nonprofit, and civic sectors;
  2. Develop a work program and secure resource commitments;
  3. Conduct an assessment of key health issues;
  4. Define a Healthy Community Vision based on the assessment and community input;
  5. Prepare a Strategic Action Plan identifying actions to be taken;
  6. Monitor process, impact and outcomes that provide for continuous quality improvements.