Housing, Health and Master Planning: rules of engagement

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Harris P, Haigh F, Thornell M, Molloy L, Sainsbury P. Housing, Health and Master Planning: rules of engagement. Public Health 2014


Objectives: Knowledge about health focussed policy collaboration to date has been either tactical or technical. This article focusses on both technical and tactical issues to describe the experience of cross-sectoral collaboration between health and housing stakeholders across the life of a housing masterplan, including but not limited to a health impact assessment(HIA).

Study design: A single explanatory case study of collaboration on a master plan to regenerate a deprived housing estate in Western Sydney was developed to explain why and how the collaboration worked or did not work. Methods: Data collection included stakeholder interviews, document review, and reflections by the health team. Following a realist approach, data was analysed against established public policy theory dimensions.


Results: Tactically we did not know what we were doing. Despite our technical knowledge and skills with health focussed processes, particularly HIA, we failed to appreciate complexities inherent in master planning. This limited our ability to provide information at the right points. Eventually however the HIA did provide substantive connections between the master plan and health. We use our analysis to develop technical and tactical rules of engagement for future cross-sectoral collaboration.

Conclusions: This case study from the field provides insight for future health focussed policy collaboration. We demonstrate the technical and tactical requirements for future intersectoral policy and planning collaborations, including HIAs, with the housing sector on master planning. The experience also suggested how HIAs can be conducted flexibly alongside policy development rather than at a specific point after a policy is drafted.

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