City Futures Research Centre Arts, Design and Architecture

Translating health evidence to support healthy planning strategies for higher density living

This project is about creating sustainable urban futures and enhancing population health.  It addresses contemporary and complex challenges to population health in a rapidly growing urbanised world, facing climate change and environmental degradation – all of which have serious consequences for human health.  With its strong focus on translating evidence for policy and development, the principal aim of the research is to understand how health evidence can be better applied in planning for healthier, sustainable, higher density living to support the health and wellbeing of present and future generations.  The outcome will be to advance knowledge of ways to plan higher density developments for positive outcomes for future population health.

The research is collaborative and interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on the strengths of academic researchers, professionals and community organisations across disciplinary boundaries. We at the City Wellbeing Program worked with a research team from the University of Technology Sydney  and Sydney University with expertise in the areas of built environment, public health, healthy planning and planetary health.  Including Professor Susan Thompson, the Chief Investigators were Prof Jason Prior (UTS), Prof Leena Thomas (UTS), Dr Erica McIntyre (UTS), Professor Jon Adams (UTS), Dr Jennifer Kent (USyd), Professor Tony Capon (USyd) and Professor Chris Rissel (USyd).  Research Fellows: Dr Irena Connon (UTS), Dr Harriet Westcott (USyd); Research Assistant: Dr Gregory Paine (UNSW).


The Project has conducted three extensive reviews of the local and international literature.  Each are detailed in separate reports. 

The first review examined current understandings around health and higher density urban living.  The second review looked at the types of evidence used to link health into planning strategies for higher density development.  You can access both of these reports here:

The third review looked directly at current and past planning documents specific to the two chosen case-study localities – Victoria Park and the Green Square Town Centre – located within the larger Green Square redevelopment area.  Both are new high-density localities in which project partner Landcom has specific involvement.  This review, undertaken by the City Wellbeing Program assessed: 

  • how higher density living environments are defined and understood by the planning institutions involved in the two case study areas, and
  • the extent to which, and how, health was a consideration in their development.

You can access the completed report, Health and Planning in Green Square, Sydney: A contextual review of planning documents relating to Victoria Park and the Green Square Town Centre, here: Report

You can access the Executive Summary of the report here: Executive Summary

The report findings are now also published in two peer-reviewed papers.

The first,  “Planning for health in higher density living: learning from the experience of Green Square, New South Wales” is published in the Australian Planner journal. It can be accessed here:

The second, “Bringing history forward: learning from historical context when translating contemporary evidence into practice” deals with the extensive review of the planning history and background of Green Square and the South Sydney area that was undertaken. It is published in the Journal of Planning History, and can be accessed here:

More Information:  


Funded by


Collaborating partners

University of Sydney
University of Technology Sydney

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