The social determinants of health (SDH) are recommended as a policy focus for governments seeking to increase health and wellbeing, and maintain control of health care budgets. Urban planning influences the SDH by shaping the physical and social aspects of neighbourhoods, creating conditions that can either support or detract from the promotion of physical activity, social connectedness and mental wellbeing. This paper draws on selected findings from a three year ARC funded project, which is examining Australian urban planning policies. The paper examines one aspect of urban planning: the extent to which policies encourage neighbourhood built form that will promote health and wellbeing.The research findings indicate that many of the policies recognise the importance of neighbourhood form in fostering active transport and mandate it primarily on environmental and traffic decongestion grounds (e.g. reducing vehicle kilometers travelled and associated emissions), with supplementary validation coming from the health benefits of increased physical activity. However, in regard to other aspects of neighbourhood design, potential synergies between physical and mental wellbeing and urban planning could be developed further through attention to promoting city wide accessibility, safety and social connectedness at the level of the walkable neighbourhood. This can be achieved through planning policies that facilitate autonomy and self-reliance at the neighbourhood level to enable opportunities for greater social and recreational activities, including impromptu interactions between neighbours, in public places such as neighbourhood parks, streets and activity centres.