Creating health

The determinants of health in cities need to be delivered by health aware urban planning that also enables communities to be at the heart of healthy place-making. For most people, and for most of our lives, the places we live in do far more to support our health than our national health and care services. Of course these are needed by everyone when things go wrong or at vulnerable life stages. But as the World Health Organization’s Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion states ‘Health is created and lived by people within the settings of their everyday life; where they learn, work, play and love.’

In addition, the relationship between resources such as land, food, biodiversity, air, energy, water and local amenities at neighbourhood level provides the basis healthy lives, health equity and also a healthy planet.

As an urban designer and chartered Landscape Architect, both human and ecological systems have always been at the core of my approach. Starting practice in 1986, I have worked on rural and urban projects for a broad range of clients. I began specialising in sustainable development and population health through joining a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in 1996, this was uniquely, and unusually, situated in an academic faculty of the built environment.

My approach

I developed and used tools to support healthy lifestyles and reduce health inequalities.
My work;

  • integrates scales from city-region spatial frameworks, to  urban design and neighbourhood interventions,
  • engages with practitioners and researchers in public health and built environment together with vernacular place-based knowledge from expertise in communities,
  • identifies co-benefits for people’s health and planetary health using a wider determinants of health and assets based approach.

I always keep both urban health and sustainability in the cross-hairs of my approach. I have worked a wide range of long-terms clients developing a range of tools, policies and advocacy workshops;

  • from futures work with the UK Government’s Department of Trade and Industry in Whitehall, to community work with Bristol City Council

In the UK, I have been involved in evaluating and funding complex interventions as a member of the scientific board of the National Institute for Public Health Research. I have helped the World Health Organisation update their European Age-Friendly City guidelines and annually evaluate cities for their WHO European Healthy Cities Network. More recently supporting the WHO and UN-Habitat with urban policy that brings together urban health objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Career and experience

I am an experienced policy adviser and project advocate. I have worked with communities, practitioners, officers and political members in the UK and across continental Europe.

  • Former Associate Professor and deputy director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Healthy Urban Environments, working with the WHO European Healthy Cities Network for over 15 years.
  • Examined issues of sustainable development and health through posts in consultancy, central and local governmental organisations and academia.
  • Developed a number of widely used tools for supporting collaborative decision making.

Collaborators, clients and partners

Bristol City CouncilBristol Health Partners

Department for Business Innovation & SkillsNatural Environment Research CouncilPublic Health EnglandDepartment of HealthBelfast Healthy CitiesLandscape Institute.

World Health Organisation European Office (Copenhagen)Healthy CitiesAge-friendly environments in EuropeWHO European Centre for Environment and Health (Bonn)Baltic Region Healthy Cities AssociationStavropol Healthy City AssociationPhenotype – Health from outside in,  European Network Architecture for Health.

Associated consultants​

  • Glocal Health Consultants specialises in the creative application of models from political science to global and local problems.

Qualifications and honours

BSc. (Hons) Studied ecology at Exeter University.
Dip LA Learnt how to apply ecological approaches through landscape architecture and urbanism.
CMLI Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute.
MA  Researching  sustainability in rural economic development and landscape change.
FFPH Appointed Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health through my services to public health.
FNIHR Founding member of the National Institute of Health Research PHR scientific board.
FRSA Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturing.
AoU Nominated to be an academician at the Academy of Urbanism.