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Building HIA approaches into strategies for green space use: an example from Plymouth's (UK) Stepping Stones to Nature project

04 Nov 2013

The health and well-being benefits of access to green space are well documented. Research suggests positive findings regardless of social group, however barriers exist that limit access to green space, including proximity, geography and differing social conditions. Current public health policy aims to broaden the range of environmental public health interventions through effective partnership working, providing opportunities to work across agencies to promote the use of green space. Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a combination of methods and procedures to assess the potential health and well-being impacts of policies, developments and projects. It provides a means by which negative impacts can be mitigated and positive impacts can be enhanced, and has potential application for assessing green space use. This paper describes the application of a HIA approach to a multi-agency project (Stepping Stones to Nature––SS2N) in the UK designed to improve local green spaces and facilitate green space use in areas classified as having high levels of deprivation. The findings suggest that the SS2N project had the potential to provide significant positive benefits in the areas of physical activity, mental and social well-being. Specific findings for one locality identified a range of actions that could be taken to enhance benefits, and mitigate negative factors such as anti-social behaviour. The HIA approach proved to be a valuable process through which impacts of a community development/public health project could be enhanced and negative impacts prevented at an early stage; it illustrates how a HIA approach could enhance multi-agency working to promote health and well-being in communities.

4 November 2013

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Health Promotion International