Promoting healthy urban planning

Malcolm SouchBy Malcolm Souch, HUDU

Healthy urban planning means good planning and good design which can help reduce healthcare costs by preventing ill-health from factors such as physical inactivity, pollution, road injuries, poor housing and social isolation. Well-designed buildings and public spaces will generate economic benefits, both in terms of development value and community wellbeing.

To encourage and support this, the six east London Growth Boroughs, Groundwork London and HUDU have published a healthy urban planning checklist which aims to promote healthy urban planning and mainstream health issues and impacts into the planning process. The checklist builds on the Healthy Urban Planning in Practice report which was used to assess the Olympic Legacy Communities planning application and supports the Olympic Growth Boroughs’ work to achieve socio-economic ‘convergence’.

The checklist was piloted in the six boroughs and by the Greater London Authority and was presented at ‘Fit Cities Fit World 2013’, a major international conference in London and at a Town and Country Planning Association ‘Reuniting Health with Planning’ roundtable at the London Borough of Newham.

It seeks to ‘mainstream’ health by bringing together relevant policy requirements and standards to assist the decision-making process. By asking a series of questions focused on a planning issue, using the checklist can quickly ensure that related health and wellbeing issues are addressed. A ‘healthy’ development can be achieved when the requirements and standards are met and exceeded.

The National Planning Policy Framework encourages local planning authorities, public health leads and health organisations to work together to ensure that health issues and impacts are considered in local and neighbourhood plans and when determining planning applications.

The checklist supports this collaborative approach. It can be used in a number of ways: to prepare a Local Plan or neighbourhood plan; to screen possible health impacts as part of an health impact assessment or environmental health impact; or to scrutinise plans and major planning applications. It should be customised for local use to reflect local circumstances and priorities.

The use of the checklist in the London Borough of Newham is featured as a case study in the Local Government Association and Public Health England document ‘Public health transformation nine months on: bedding in and reaching out’ (January 2014). Whilst developed for the east London Growth Boroughs, other London boroughs are encouraged to use the checklist and it will be disseminated through planning and public health networks.

The Healthy Urban Planning Checklist can be downloaded here.

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