The recent Marmot Review of Health Inequalities (Marmot 2010) has the creation of healthy and sustainable places and communities, the creation of fair employment and good work for all and the enabling of children and young people to maximise their capabilities and opportunities as key policy objectives to improve health and reduce health inequalities. This project will investigate how urban regeneration programmes impact on health and psychological wellbeing, and its wider determinants, by comparing changes in families in an area undergoing regeneration with those in comparison areas with no comparable regeneration.
In this study, regeneration activities in Stratford, London Borough of Newham, will act as the main intervention being evaluated, primarily the construction of the Olympic Park and Stratford City developments during late 2011 and early 2012. These developments are a major investment in regeneration and will cover an area of 7000 acres in the London Borough of Newham. They include provision for a total of 2.9 million sq. Ft. retail and leisure space, 1.3 million sq. Ft. hotel space, a 6.6 million sq. Ft. commercial district, 16,400 new homes and 180,000 sq. Ft. of new and refurbished community spaces. Physical regeneration will comprise of 'sustainable' transport networks (rail and active travel corridors); educational and housing infrastructure; new civic space, parks and green areas; improving the connectivity and accessibility of 'fringe' communities to the Olympic Park and development of shopping, business and community facilities. Comparison areas are Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Barking & Dagenham, similar in terms of deprivation level and socio-demographics, where no comparable regeneration is taking place.
The purpose of the proposed project is to answer the following primary research question
1. What is the impact of urban regeneration on the social determinants of health (employment), health behaviours (physical activity) and health outcomes (mental health and wellbeing) of adolescents and their parents?
Underpinning this objective are the following secondary research questions:
2. What are the wider socio-environmental and health impacts of urban regeneration in terms of benefit status, educational attainment, social cohesion/capital, diet, smoking, alcohol use and obesity?
3. How are socio-economic and health impacts distributed by age, sex, ethnicity and education?
4. What are the effects on health and health behaviours of specific components of the regeneration programme?
5. Are socio-economic and health impacts sustained over time?
We will answer these questions by undertaking a longitudinal quasi-experimental questinnaire survey comparing changes in health over time in the intervention (regeneration) area with those in a comparison area, and an integrated in-depth longitudinal qualitative study of family experiences of physical and social regeneration in the intervention (regeneration) area.
Participants will be surveyed pre-regeneration and again at 6 and 18 months post-regeneration in both intervention and comparison areas. The qualitative study will investigate attitudes to, and experiences of, regeneration over the same period and will allow us to ways in which the outcomes of regeneration are experienced and utilised in health promoting and health damaging ways. Full ethical approval will be obtained.
The intervention will be successful if improvements in health and health inequalities in the regeneration area are greater than in comparison areas. The team has substantial experience in evaluating complex social interventions, survey design, qualitative research and the social determinants of health and wellbeing. This, combined with expertise in geography, psychology, evaluation, public health and statistics, make us well-placed to undertake this project.
The proposal costs less than 0.03% of the total cost of the regeneration programme and there are no current plans to evaluate these the effects of the regeneration programme on public health representing a cost-effective opportunity for policy learning.