The Three Domains of Urban Planning for Health and Well-being

Jennifer L. Kent, Susan Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


Urban planning has an important role to play in supporting human health. While this is increasingly recognized in a burgeoning interdisciplinary body of literature, there remains an ongoing need to clarify and conceptualize the relationship between planning and health. This is especially the case from the perspective of built environment professionals, as they increasingly focus on health and well-being issues. The key contribution of this article is such a conceptualization-a framework to group and review the literature in this rapidly expanding area of research. We suggest three domains where urban planning can most effectively focus support for health and well-being. These domains address the principle risk factors for contemporary chronic disease-physical inactivity, obesity, and social isolation. Our framework is then used to review an evidence base that supports the development, prioritization, and implementation of healthy built environment practice. This article concludes with a critical discussion of theoretical and practical tensions identified as potential impediments to the progression of this new and exciting interdisciplinary area of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-256
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Planning Literature
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • health
  • methods
  • planning practice
  • quality of life
  • recreation and open space


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