Conference paper
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The promotion of human health was explicitly positioned as one of four goals in Sydney’s most recent metropolitan strategy: ‘A Plan for Growing Sydney’ (released December 2014). This is a first for metropolitan strategic planning in New South Wales. It presents a timely and unique opportunity to investigate the way a new concern can emerge as a priority in an established planning policy system. All plan making is conducted in an arena where different interest groups seek to establish particular narratives as a means to pursue internal objectives. Acknowledging this idea, this paper records the discourses and versions of events circling the development of the Sydney metropolitan strategic plan. We do this through a discourse analysis applied to media, social media and other publications (such as websites, discussion papers and media releases). This is accompanied by an analysis of the values and positions of key stakeholders vocal in commentary and the plan making process.Our analysis facilitates tabulation of the range of prevailing issues dominating media and government discourse during the plan’s development. We also reveal how values are interpreted through narratives and into policy, and how these influenced the emergence and form of the health priority in the strategy. We conclude that the key stakeholders involved in the plan making process readily identified with and accepted health as a planning priority. This confirms previous findings that health’s inclusion in urban planning policy is potentially more to do with its passive acceptance by key stakeholders than any active embrace. We conclude with recommendations for advocates seeking to influence strategic planning, particularly to promote emotive issues such as healthy built environments.

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