Land Use Planning for Equitable Health Outcomes (LUPEHO)
A preliminary review of two land use planning instruments (as applied to Western Sydney)
Land use planning has a profound impact on the health outcomes of communities.
Recognising the critical importance of land use planning and to shed light on its potential in achieving equity in health outcomes, the Western Sydney Health Alliance commissioned UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation (CHETRE) and the Healthy Urban Environments Collaboratory (HUE) to assess if and how State Government’s land use planning instruments are applying an equity lens to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities.
The research reviewed 14 State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) and 8 Local Environmental Planning Policies (LEPs) against NSW Health’s Healthy Built Environment Checklist and has highlighted a lack of clarity over how land use planning strategies can address health inequities. The research gives a clear picture that equity in health is often overlooked in the current planning system.
While some planning instruments highlighted that ‘equitable access’ should be ensured, few provided definitions on what equity means from a Planning perspective; even fewer provided guidance on how it may be achieved.
These planning instruments have oversight of land use allocations, connections, transport modes, access to natural environments, public space design and amenity.
The research proposes a set of 14 indicators for Land Use Planning for Equitable Health Outcomes to assist local governments within the Western Parkland City to reflect on and monitor healthy planning outcomes. These set of measures may facilitate improvements and monitor changes over time, informing sound decision-making at a local level and helping to create healthier and more inclusive communities.
By considering the social determinants of health, such as access to quality housing, transportation, parks, and healthy food, this research underscores the importance of integrating health equity considerations into land use planning processes. In doing so, policymakers, urban planners, and community stakeholders can proactively address health and promote equitable health outcomes for all residents.
A submission to State Government is currently being prepared on how a health equity lens applied to the current SEPPS and LEPs can lead to an inclusive and equitable legislative land use instrument.
The Western Sydney Health Alliance calls upon decision-makers at the local, regional, and national levels to prioritise health equity in land use planning and development legislation and policies by recognising a diverse set of indicators, representing social determinants of health and equity. It is essential to collaborate across sectors, engage diverse community voices, and leverage research-backed strategies to build inclusive, healthy, and thriving communities.