Does the design of your environment, the man-made structures and infrastructure that permeate nearly every aspect of your life, influence behavior directly related to your personal health? The government of Kane County, Illinois thinks that it does, as this is evident from their new comprehensive plan, the “Kane County 2040 Plan: Healthy People, Healthy Living, Healthy Communities.”
As an urban planner for Kane County, the concept of integrating health into comprehensive planning is near and dear to my heart. The decision to make Healthy People, Healthy Living, Healthy Communities the theme of the Kane County 2040 Plan “recognizes and emphasizes the connection between the most important resource in Kane County – its people – with the opportunities and barriers for healthy living created by the built and natural environment, and how together they shape the overall health of communities.” By placing the spotlight on health, the Kane County 2040 Plan ultimately aspires to achieve the healthiest residents in Illinois through long-term planning and design.
In order to truly understand the relationship between health and the built and natural environment, the Kane County 2040 Plan explores how an array of planning issues impact the establishment of healthy communities, and therefore, healthy citizens.
These urban planning issues include:
- Land Use and Built Environment;
- Mobility and Connectivity;
- Community Health;
- Agriculture: Food and Farm;
- Open Space and Green Infrastructure;
- Water Resources;
- Sustainability and Energy;
- Historic Preservation;
- Economic Prosperity.
While many of these issues have previously been covered in long-range comprehensive plans, the emphasis placed on health enables Kane County to view these issues in an entirely different manner. As a result, Kane County is (at least this writer believes so) able to create innovative goals and objectives in each chapter of the Kane County 2040 Plan, allowing for the formation of a comprehensive plan that is much better suited to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Kane County.
What do you think about the idea of using urban planning as a tool to improve public health? Be sure to share your thoughts below.
Credits: Images by Sean Glowacz. Data linked to sources.