Social and Health Impact Assessment (SHIA)

Sprawling suburbs and fragmented inner city neighborhoods where distances are too great and streets are too dangerous have significantly contributed to our massive problems of obesity, chronic physical ill health, social isolation, violence and crime. Our children and elders, those who are disabled or poor especially need to live in healthy communities. As we take steps to improve the built environment of our cities and suburbs, it is essential that we avoid the mistakes of the past.

Some proposed developments alleviate these problems. Others exacerbate them. Before permitting or investing in major projects, therefore, it is important to understand the likely effects of proposed changes in the built environment on health and well-being. Social and Health Impact Assessments apply existing knowledge and evidence about health impacts, to provide evidence-based recommendations as to how best to protect and improve community health and well-being.

How may we help you?

IMCL provides an innovative method for assessing the impact of planning and urban design proposals on the physical and social health of residents and users. After determining that an SHIA is required, the IMCL team outlines the parameters of the assessment, range of impacts, and measures to be obtained. Current conditions are assessed, and compared against potential effects of the proposed project, whether it is plans for new development or neighborhood restructuring,  the redesign for streets, parks and public places, land use and transportation planning, downtown development and/or neighborhood revitalization plans. A report evaluates the impact of the proposed development project on health and well-being, and may recommend alternate solutions that are likely to have a more benign impact on health and well-being.

The assessment may be tailored to focus on all or some of the following potential impacts:

  • The health of all residents, or of selected population groups
  • Physical health (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc)
  • Social health and community resilience (face-to-face interaction, social capital, civic engagement, etc)
  • Socio-emotional problems (social anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc)
  • Social problems (crime, violence, graffiti, drug abuse, etc)

IMCL is flexible in determining with clients whether a broad overview of potential health impacts is desirable, or whether a more in-depth assessment is required. The team will work with clients to establish the appropriate breadth and depth of Impact Assessment desired. Assessments may involve from one to eight week’s consultation.  Depending on the time available and the depth of assessment needed, IMCL may apply a methodology using a combination of quantitative analysis, qualitative evaluation, site visit and community dialogue. Findings are presented in a report and/or PPT presentation.

The team’s expertise is based on a combined 70 years of experience and research on the effects of the built environment on health and well-being, as well as a profound depth of knowledge of research and literature in these fields.

To find out how we can help you, please contact our IMCL Consultants team at