2009 Conference Papers

"SIA of urban form to enhance social well-being"
- Nick Taylor & James Baines

Presented at the International Association for Impact Assessment Annual Meeting, Chad, 17-22 May 2009.

Changes in urban form are developer driven or based around infrastructure projects. Examples of these drivers include housing developments, retail facilities, industry parks and transport infrastructure. Planning by local authorities, while supposedly providing the necessary policy framework, is often reactive and lacks strategic direction to enhance sustainability outcomes, including social wellbeing. This paper draws on a number of examples from New Zealand to advance a social wellbeing framework, for SIA practitioners to move beyond site specific considerations to consider wider issues of urban form. These urban form issues include, for instance, relationships between housing type, intensification and location, employment, retail facilities, social services and transport systems. Furthermore, the framework identifies linkages to bio-physical and health dimensions of sustainability when considering social impacts at a strategic level. The wide range of available urban design elements that potentially can influence social well being suggests SIA can provide an important feedback loop into processes of urban planning as well as project design. Good practice SIA in the urban context can overcome common frustrations of SIA practitioners and urban communities through early application at strategic and project levels, full community involvement and better integration with other specialities of design and assessment.

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