Multi-sectoral perspectives on integrated food policy with reference to food environment change through urban planning and land use - case studies from the English West Midlands.

Barry, Veronica (2022) Multi-sectoral perspectives on integrated food policy with reference to food environment change through urban planning and land use - case studies from the English West Midlands. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Veronica Barry PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Mar 2022_Final Award Sep 2022 .pdf - Accepted Version

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This study explores multi-sectoral perspectives on integrated food policy, with reference to food environment change through planning and land use. It takes a case study approach, focused on three metropolitan boroughs in the English West Midlands – Sandwell, Dudley and Solihull, with insight from in depth interviews and documentary evidence. In so doing it has addressed some gaps noted in urban food planning literatures - that in conditions of complexity, greater understanding is needed of nuances behind integrated policy making, and particularly on the views and motivations of actors, including planners and public health, towards achieving food environment change. The research draws on wide academic, practice and conceptual literatures with focus on integrated policy making, systems thinking, determinants of health models, and across the intersections of urban food policy, public health and healthy planning.

The research reveals that integrated policy making processes are inherently messy, complex and dynamic, vulnerable to change and unintended consequences. It suggests that although there may be willingness, interest, political support and policy alignment for integrated upstream action on food environments, the ability and momentum to see this through to tangible or land use change is often lost. Actors revealed varied understanding, definitions and concepts in use around - food environments, food systems, and structural vs. individual factors - indicating clarity and skills development within food policy groups would help illuminate responsibilities and pathways to change. In addition, long time frames and complexity of underlying factors on the ground can mean failure to recognise, track and connect the dots across change, time, process and levels. Knowledge transfer is key to protection of legacy vulnerable to change and loss, along with distribution of leadership and responsibilities across “constellations” of actors across all levels of the system.

Findings reveal significant “dis-integrating” factors, including systems “blind spots”; powerful influence of hidden actors, impact of austerity and change and tensions within the policy making process. Without making this overt, there may be a tendency to fall back on “talismanic” symbols of food environment, at the expense of addressing real levers change. In addition, differential overt and covert presence, dynamic tensions and roles of actors involved in policy for food environment change was suggested in a development of Lang’s Food Policy “triangle”. Findings suggest that within these local authority settings, closer alignment between planners, public health and food policy actors is needed to enact broader systems approaches. Understanding and working within systems approach is emerging but nascent – development of systems skills, knowledge and progress is supported by integrated work through joint policy making groups, grounded learning and risk taking. Embedding food within “healthy public policy” and healthy planning might provide greater opportunity for integrated action beyond dedicated food policy focus – offering a pivotal vehicle for addressing some of the spatial and structural levers of food environment change. Focus on histories of places where food policy may be dormant, “failing” or no longer visible can bring valuable insight into policy making within “ordinary settings".

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
16 March 2022Submitted
16 September 2022Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Urban food policy, healthy public policy, healthy planning, integrated policy, land use planning, food environment, systems, determinants of health.
Subjects: CAH13 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01 - architecture, building and planning > CAH13-01-04 - planning (urban, rural and regional)
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment > College of Built Environment
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2023 15:14
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2024 11:45

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