UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


New online short course on Healthy Urbanism launched

2 July 2021

UCL researchers Dr Helen Pineo and Dr Gemma Moore have co-developed an online training course with and for built environment and public health professionals on Healthy Urbanism.

people sat in a park in London with deck chairs

Low understanding about how the built environment influences the health of the public is a key barrier to building and maintaining healthy places. The pandemic and growing health inequalities have highlighted the importance of this topic, yet many professionals lack the knowledge to act.

A new free online short course in Healthy Urbanism on the UCLeXtend platform will enable professionals to gain knowledge and transferable lessons from international case studies, tools and resources.

Sign up now

UCL researchers received funding to develop the training with an advisory group including representatives from Public Health England, Faculty of Public Health, Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation, London Healthy Place Network, Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors, Royal Town Planning Institute, Town & Country Planning Association and other organisations.

The training incorporates concise explanations of theory and principles from Dr Helen Pineo’s research on healthy urbanism and is structured around her THRIVES Framework (Towards Healthy uRbanism: InclusiVe, Equitable, Sustainable). Case studies illustrate all of the concepts with healthy development examples from the UK, USA, Australia and elsewhere.

Participation in the training is free and registration is now open on the UCLeXtend platform here.

Dr Helen Pineo, Lecturer in Sustainable and Healthy Built Environments in IEDE, says that her research informed the development of the course:

We interviewed people involved in bringing forward new development in six countries and they agreed that knowledge gaps continue to get in the way of progress on healthy place-making. Although a small group of professionals have gained great expertise in healthy urban development in recent years, there is a much wider group of stakeholders that need to share the same vision of the problems and solutions for health. That includes planners, public health teams, local politicians and many others.”

 The framework was informed by Dr Pineo’s research with Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation in South London. Property Director of the Foundation, Gail Macdonald says:

THRIVES has provided strategic direction for our organisation, and we have used it guide our property objectives – community inclusion, health and well-being and sustainability. Our internal property team are taking this healthy urbanism training and we will recommend it to our development partners.”

 The researchers aim to build on this short course with more professional development initiatives that will bring people of different disciplines together. Dr Gemma Moore, Senior Research Fellow (Evaluation) & Lecturer (Teaching) in IEDE, says:

Our approach was to work closely with the proposed audience for this training to co-develop the materials. The advisory group were involved in shaping the content but we also benefitted greatly from our work with the property team at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation and their development partners to understand the needs of different training audience.”

This course is aimed at built environment and public health professionals and postgraduate students, including those working in planning, engineering, architecture and other fields. The total time to complete the course is 3.5 hours. However, participants can complete content at their own pace, focusing on the materials that suit their interests and experience.

Funding was awarded from the Bartlett Innovation Fund and Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation to co-develop the online training.

Dr Pineo and Dr Moore creating the training in response to their research findings about the challenges and opportunities associated with healthy development projects in six countries. The findings are of relevance to the international calls to Build Back Better and the UK’s focus on ‘levelling up’. Participants said that managing risk, responsibility and economic constraints were of high importance to persuade developers to adopt healthy design measures. Those who aimed to promote health pushed as business-as-usual practices by showing economic benefits or piloting new approaches to de-risk the process. Whilst financial barriers were seen as more problematic than knowledge gaps, there was common recognition that increased awareness among wider stakeholders, including the public, is needed to achieve change in policies and decision-making.