Public Health England have published a review of evidence examining the links and strength of evidence between health and the built and natural environment. It provides key messages illustrated in diagrams for five aspects of the built and natural environment to help improve communication and engagement between public health and spatial planning practitioners and help shape local planning policy and decisions.
The study identifies gaps in the evidence and make recommendations for further research. However, it notes that the causal links between built environment and health are often complex and difficult to demonstrate, but a lack of evidence reviews and quantitative research does not mean that the link does not exist. Instead, a ‘whole system’ approach is needed combining different interventions based on the ‘precautionary principle’.
The report can be found here
Public Health England have produced a guide to help Directors of Public Health and local public health teams engage in the Environmental Impact Assessment process. Recent changes to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations clarify that ‘population and human health’ is a topic that should be considered when assessing the impact of large scale development and infrastructure projects.
There is an opportunity for public health professionals to be more engaged in the process from the screening and scoping stages onwards, and to work closely with planners and EIA professionals. It is also important for local public health professionals to work with environmental health officers when engaging in the EIA process and for the relationship between EIA and Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to be clarified, as HIA involves a wider assessment of health issues and impacts. At a national level, Public Health England has a role to comment on scoping reports and Environmental Statements linked to nationally significant infrastructure projects.
The briefing can be found here.
An independent review into how the NHS can make the best use of its estate to support NHS England’s Five Year Forward View has been published by government. The review highlights the opportunities available to support sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) and optimise the use of NHS land and buildings.
The report points to the “general consensus … that the current NHS capital investment is insufficient to fund transformation and maintain the current estate“ and calls for the NHS, through the STP process to “rapidly develop robust capital plans which are aligned with clinical strategies, maximise value for money (including land sales) and address backlog maintenance. Government should support these plans by providing capital, but only where a strong case has been made.”
In welcoming the review findings, the government notes that it is “already acting on some of the recommendations by:
- creating a new NHS property body
- making a £325 million capital investment over the next 3 years to develop local STPs – as announced in this year’s Budget
- developing an incentive scheme to guarantee that proceeds of sales are available for reinvestment”
It further notes that it will consider a further multi-year capital programme in the autumn and will respond to the broader recommendations in due course
The full report can be found here.
The government has published an independent review of community infrastructure levy (CIL) which recommends a new approach to developer contributions.
Commissioned in Nov 2015, the purpose of the review was to assess the extent to which CIL does or can provide an effective mechanism for funding infrastructure, and to recommend changes that would improve its operation in support of the government’s wider housing and growth objectives.
The review group submitted their report to ministers in October 2016 and concluded that, given the strengths and weaknesses of both systems, “we should have a system where we can use the best of both elements to optimize contributions from all development, including the smallest, towards the cumulative impacts of development over an area whilst acknowledging that the largest and most complex developments requires a bespoke approach to their specific infrastructure needs.”
Accordingly the review report recommends replacing the current CIL and s106 system with a hybrid system combining a broad and low level Local Infrastructure Tariff (LIT) applying to most developments with Section 106 for larger developments. The report and associated research findings can be found found here.
The new Mayor of London has published “A City for All Londoners” for consultation. The document sets out a direction for London, which the Mayor intends to expand on in detailed strategies, including:
- land use and growth (the London Plan)
- economic development
- the environment
- policing and crime
- health inequalities
Amongst other things, the document outlines how the Mayor plans to respond positively to pressures on growth and aims to ensure people from all walks of life are healthy and live well alongside each other.
The full document can be found here.
HUDU has published new versions of the Healthy Urban Planning Checklist and its Rapid Health Impact Assessment Tool. The new versions incorporate changes to relevant planning policy and other documents since they were first published in March 2014 and Jan 2013 respectively. One of the key changes is to update all the London Plan references to reflect the further alterations to the Plan adopted in March 2015. The Checklist and the Rapid HIA tool offer different ways of helping to promote healthy urban planning and mainstream health issues and impacts into the planning process depending on the scale and nature of development proposed. For more information visit the Health Impact Assessment page.