Regenerative spaces (good for health, environment and the planet) are essential for human flourishing. Findings from previous research suggest an association between spatial patterning and health outcomes (Hagedoorn et al. 2016; Meijer et al. 2012; Pritchard & Evans 1997). Secondary analysis of Danish mortality data (2004-2006) revealed that areas of highest density were associated with the highest mortality rates of residents after controlling for socio-economic status (Meijer et al. 2012). In contrast, researchers have observed unexplained variation in relation to population density and mortality rates within the context of Scotland and the United Kingdom (Hill & Clelland 2015; Tunstall et al. 2012).
Economic and urban growth are prioritised by local and national governments within Scotland (UK) potentially challenging the attainment of health and social justice within the urban context. Scotland’s spatial strategy (NPF 3) suggests population growth in some city areas, with good infrastructure, will lead to higher housing density (Scottish Government 2014). It is important to question this change in urban form within the context of the Scottish Government’s vision for sustainable place-making. Will higher-density developments lead to healthier living environments, optimum health and reduced spatial inequalities in well-being? Advocating for community health requires assessing place and space (Loue 2005). Working within a community environmental health ethic in order to reach a state of mutual health and fairness (Fuchs 2017; Mackie 2010), we consulted with members of community councils. Members resided within areas characterised by high and low levels of population density and deprivation levels within the City of Edinburgh. These members questioned whether higher-density developments lead to healthier living environments and reduced spatial inequalities in well-being.
In response, a geo-spatial analysis, incorporating Census (2011) and Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (2016) data, of population density within specific data zones will be conducted between May and July 2018. Presentation of the findings from the geo-spatial mapping exercise and implications for an interdisciplinary response will be discussed in relation to increasing knowledge and practice regarding the health of place.
Fuchs C (2017) Critical Social Theory and Sustainable Development: The Role of Class, Capitalism and Domination in a Dialectical Analysis of Un/Sustainability. Sustainable Development, 25: 443–458.
Hagedoorn P, Hadewijch V, Willaert D, Vanthomme K & Gadeyne S (2016) Regional Inequalities in Lung Cancer Mortality in Belgium at the Beginning of the 21st Century: The Contribution of Individual and Area-Level Socioeconomic Status and Industrial Exposure. PLoS ONE 11(1), e0147099e – 0147117e.
Hill C and Clelland D (2015) Poverty and deprivation in Dumfries in Galloway. Crighton Institute; Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Loue S (2006) Community health advocacy. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 60: 458-463.
Mackie P (2010). Social justice and social responsibility: Towards a value-base for global public health. Public Health 124(11), 620-625.
Meijer M, Mette Kegs A, Sock C, Bloomfield K, Ejstrud B, Schlattmann P (2012) Population density, socioeconomic environment and all-cause mortality: A multilevel survival analysis of 2.7 million individuals in Denmark. Health and Place 18: 391-399.
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Scottish Government (2014) National Planning Framework 3. Monday, June 23, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2014/06/3539
Tunstall H, Mitchell R, Gibbs J, Platt S, Dorling D (2012) Socio-demographic diversity and unexplained variation in death rates among the most deprived parliamentary constituencies in Britain. Journal of Public Health 34(2), 296-304.
Carnegie, E., Reid, A., Deakin, M., & Inglis, G. (2018, September). Socio-environmental Health. Exploring risk and resource spaces within urban environments. An interdisciplinary enquiry. Paper presented at Space and Poverty (Salzburg Conference in Interdisciplinary Poverty Research)