Planning for healthier homes, healthier communities
Published by Fiona Mannion for TCPA in Health and also in Communities, Environment, Housing, Local Government
Leading housing and planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), has today launched a new handbook, ‘Reuniting health with planning: healthier homes, healthier communities’.
The handbook is the first of its kind since the Government set out a radical reform agenda across the planning and health sectors, including a requirement on planners to work with public health organisations, and a new public health responsibility for local authorities. It explains the relevance of these reforms for health and planning, and gives planners and public health practitioners ideas for how they can work together.
Where we live has an important influence on our health and wellbeing. For example, high quality green spaces that are easy to access improve mental health and levels of physical activity. But often people living in the most deprived parts of England have less access to green space. They also experience the worst air quality and are more likely to have cardio-respiratory diseases.
Better joint working between planners and public health practitioners is an important part of identifying these sorts of local health needs and finding ways to tackle them.
Kate Henderson, TCPA Chief Executive said:
“The planning system evolved as a result of the public health movement. Improved planning and better housing provision have long been identified as essential for enhancing the health of individuals and the communities in which they live; thereby reducing health inequalities and costs to the taxpayer. It is essential that local authorities, who are now at the forefront of delivering on public health outcomes, grasp this agenda and approach planning and health in an integrated way.”
The handbook aims to keep the importance of integrated working, specifically between planning and health, on the agenda. Using case studies from around England, it explores how places are using this time of upheaval to push forward their intention to integrate their work across both sectors.
Prof Peter Roberts, Chair of the Planning Exchange Foundation, one of the supporters of the handbook, said:
“Improved planning and better housing provision are essential factors in enhancing the health of individuals and communities. This project explores these important relationships and offers direct and practical advice on how to maximise the benefits which result.”
Andrew Ross, lead author of the report, said:
“We hear a lot about the ‘postcode lottery of care’ in the NHS, but where you live will also have a big influence on how easy it is for you to enjoy good health – do you have decent parks close by, is the air quality good, is healthy food affordable and convenient to get to, do you feel safe walking to and from home? By working more closely together, planners and public health practitioners can take an evidence-based approach to improving local environments.”
Jon Rogers, Deputy leader of Bristol City Council, supporters of the handbook, said:
“The Government’s reform agenda has set out a new responsibility for local authorities to achieve better public health outcomes. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, this handbook will be crucial for councils in helping them implement this change and embed an integrated approach to health and planning.”
Paul Southon, Public Health Development Manager, Sandwell Primary Care Trust, also supporting the handbook, said:
“If we are going to improve health and reduce inequalities in the long term it is essential that we tackle the social determinants of health, such as the planning.”
“This handbook provides a real opportunity to make the most of the move of public health into local authorities.”
The launch of the handbook will be followed by a series of regional seminars to be jointly delivered in each case study locality. Speakers at the launch will include representatives from the Department of Health, Department for Communities and Local Government, various local authorities and sector organisations.
The TCPA and Andrew Ross are very grateful for the support of the handbook funders: Planning Exchange Foundation, NHS Bristol, First Ark Group, The Hyde Group, Luton Borough Council, Sandwell PCT and the Central Lincolnshire Joint Planning Unit.