Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Leisure & Hospitality / Public health

Healthy City Design 2017

Quantification of health benefits through urban masterplanning design of public realm

By Chris Burgess and Mitch Cooke 23 Oct 2017 0

We present an evaluation of the health benefits generated by a hybrid project comprising two linked developments: the redevelopment of the Abbey Stadium to create the Cambridge Community Stadium, and the development of the Cambridge Sporting Village (CSV), including more than 500 new homes, as well as sporting facilities and public realm. We’ll explore the methods used, the evolution of the approach, and look at future adaptation and application of the approach for urban masterplanning.


Framework: The Sport England MOVES Tool quantifies return on investment in health benefits resulting from increased physical activity. It’s based on an epidemiological engine, which looks at the patterns, causes and effects of health and disease. Comparisons are made between social groups who either take part in physical activity or do not, and what effect this has on likely health outcomes.

Description: A bespoke methodology was developed to quantify the health benefits of the sporting programmes brought forward through the proposed development, using a tailored version of the MOVES Tool. This measured the number of Quality Adjusted Life Years (one QALY = 1 year of perfect health) gained through increased sporting participation supported by the improved sporting facilities at the CSV. Associated cost savings to the NHS were then calculated. Different sporting facilities and structured programmes were tested, including football pitches, hockey pitches and cycling facilities.

Outcomes: The approach is currently only applicable to specific sporting activities developed by Sport England and the University of East Anglia, and could benefit from being developed for other interventions. Uptake in sporting activity or use of new facilities is dependent on several factors that can influence resulting health benefits. Some of these factors require more observational research to strengthen certainty in modelled results at the design stage.

Implications: The future application of the approach includes use in optioneering exercises, when considering large-scale urban masterplan layouts. Different types of sporting facilities and configurations of public realm to encourage active lifestyles can be tested against the health or cost benefit early in the design process. 

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