Developing a Guide to Urban Planning Interventions

What is “good” urban planning? Asked another way, how do we measure and judge the progress of the professional field of urban planning? Often the focus of “good” planning is centered on a balance of outcomes, stakeholder interests, and diverse actors. This interdisciplinary approach with myriad goals translates to a lack of universal standards to assess and iterate upon the planning process. Worse yet, this broad approach can produce outcomes counter to public interest and perpetuate systemic power imbalances. In a new paper for the Journal of Planning Literature, a group of researchers ask: Rather than simply satisfy engaged stakeholders, what then should be planners’ central charge?

“Health equity should act as a north star for urban planning because it provides a good measure of what constitutes ‘just’ planning and because it is responsive to and dependent on planning activities,” said Shin Bin Tan, an Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore and lead author of the paper. “To actively follow this north star, planning researchers and professionals need a practical roadmap. Our paper offers a pathway to utilize the strengths of planning to design interventions to advance health equity and construct a more robust metric for evaluating the success of interventions.”

In addition to Tan (MCP ‘17, PhD ‘21) authors of the paper include: Andrew Binet (MCP ‘15, PhD ‘21) as well as J. Phillip Thompson and Mariana Arcaya. Tan’s research focuses on how built environment interventions and public policy can improve social and health equity. Binet, an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, is especially interested in understanding how urban environments shape our health and the relationships of care that sustain us, and how social and community planning can be tools for responding to the contemporary crisis of care and achieving health equity.  


Read their full paper, “Health Equity as a Guide for Urban Planning”