Healthy urban planning – new approaches for strategic land use planning in the North
This article outlines a theoretical framework and a strategic support scheme for healthy urban planning, which integrates the socio-spatial aspects of environment with the patterns of human-environment interaction. A multidisciplinary discussion of prior research and the rationale for the theoretical and methodological framework is shortly presented. The paper aims at reframing community-scale planning focus towards the multiple dimensions of human-environment interaction patterns that may positively affect human health and well-being in (sub)arctic climatic conditions. Pointing that relatively little has been said so far of the topic in the scale on small and medium sized rural communities, further discussions and research is needed how to benefit the practice of land use planning and community public health promotion in the north. In order to refrain the premises of healthy urban planning, an empirical case study was carried out in 2015 in Sodankylä, a small municipality with ca. 9000 inhabitants located in Northern Finland. Based mainly on qualitative data sets, the case study included contextual site analysis of the perceived qualities of the case area. This was followed by profiling and scenario drafting phase, where alternative futures for Sodankylä were framed, and their expected impacts on the environmental quality and well-being of the residents were evaluated together with the locals. As an outcome, a strategic land use plan for healthier future in 2040 was presented for Sodankylä. Based on the outcome and findings of this pilot case study, it can be concluded that understanding the interactions between individuals and their environment is critical for community planning which is beneficial to the long-term development of living environment quality and human health in the north.