Belfast Healthy Cities and Queens University Belfast partnered on a joint webinar, highlighting the intertwined and historical relationship between urban planning, Belfast’s history, and public health. The event saw local experts discuss the profound influence of Belfast’s history on the city’s current public health landscape.

Anne McCusker, programme manager at Belfast Healthy Cities commented:

“Urban design – the design of buildings and the public spaces between them – has long been recognised as a significant promoter of public health. Our webinar alongside QUB, underscored the necessity of understanding a city’s historical development to ensure the best public health outcomes to promote brain health.

“Cities with intricate designs demand a vast diversity of services within accessible ranges, emphasising the importance of robust infrastructure for public transport, pedestrian-friendly spaces, cycling provisions, and expansive green areas.”

The webinar presented findings from the SPACE project, a Queen’s University initiative which provides evidence that can shape policies and interventions, aiming to create urban environments that champion healthy ageing and brain health. By exploring Belfast’s history, the webinar examined various determinants contributing to rising dementia levels, both locally and worldwide.

Prof Amy Jayne McKnight of Queen’s University Belfast discussed the biological factors tied to public health and Prof Jennifer McKinley spoke about the significant impact of environmental factors. Prof Brendan Murtagh discussed historical influences of urban planning.

Prof Ruth Hunter from Queen’s University Belfast said:

“The insights from the webinar are a testament to the critical role of urban design and planning in ensuring public health. Through collaborations like this, Queens University Belfast aims to raise awareness and effect change.”


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