Healthy Spaces & Places Healthy Spaces & Places

Why Health and Planning?

History of Planning and Health

Source: Planning Institute of Australia

There is a long history of the connection between health and urban planning.

Planning as a unique profession originated in the early 1900s in response to the health concerns that arose around the industrial revolution, including those of overcrowding, water, air and noise pollution.

In response to these issues, land use zoning was introduced to separate dirty polluting land uses (such as factories) from where people lived. The increasing dominance of private vehicles as a mode of transport in Australia since World War II resulted in a growing focus on planning around private vehicular travel. This often occurred at the expense of catering for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

The current structure of Australian cities and towns reflects this history, with modern cities characterised by a separation of land uses, with car use as the dominant form of transport, and increased social isolation. Some of these aspects of urban form are now recognised as contributing to declining physical and mental health and overall well-being of many Australians, with an acknowledged relationship between increased car use and a decrease in physical activity.


A planner’s perspective on the health impacts
of urban settings

Healthy Cities and the City Planning Process, World Health Organisation

Australian Planning Systems - Health Interventions Table


Last updated on 22nd July, 2009

Sponsors This project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.