Our system of urban planning was developed well over 100 years ago due to population health concerns. Specifically, the need for infectious disease control resulted in a system of centralized urban services (water, sewer) along with the separation of land uses (zoning and development controls) whereby residential land uses were typically separated from more noxious industrial uses.
Urban planning and health remain inextricably linked. But today the challenge is chronic disease (heart and stroke, diabetes, cancer, asthma), along with the associated health care costs and other issues (like climate change) which are related to how we plan our communities, as well as our overall dependency upon the automobile.
Many planners and health professionals see the need for a new paradigm in urban planning. And many communities are embracing this challenge by exploring new policies and approaches, and probing how we can create healthier communities by making progressive changes to our built environment.