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Planning for healthier, happier places

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Planning for healthier, happier places

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Published by Yvette Ralston 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 report, ‘Planning for Healthier Places’,to help local authorities seize the public health agenda and create healthier and happier places for people to live and work in, especially in areas of deprivation.

This report follows on from the hugely successful and influential, ‘Reuniting health and planning’ launched last year - this handbook was the first of its kind to address how planning and public health organisations could work more effectively together following the Government’s radical reforms 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.[2]  

Where we live has a significant 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 and has a crucial role to play in delivering high quality homes and places, 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.”

Planning Healthier Places draws on background research and roundtables held in eight case study areas across England to provide an up-to-date snapshot of how local authorities and partners are putting this agenda into practice, and of the challenges that they are facing.

As well as proving a policy overview, the report also offers advice on how to get started on planning for healthier places, provides signposting to resources and tools and makes a series of recommendations to central government, local authorities and planning and public health practitioners.

In particular, it includes a section designed to help local authorities and their partners to identify links between public health objectives and how places can be shaped to respond to them, with reference to the policies of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the set of national public health outcomes indicators.

Prof Peter Roberts, TCPA Vice President and Chair of the Planning Exchange Foundation, one of the supporters of the report, 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.”

Dr Ann Marie Connolly, Director of Health Equity and Impact at Public Health England, who also supported the report, said:

"We are very pleased to have this important publication. Where people live, work and play is fundamental to their health. The return of public health responsibilities to local government is an important opportunity to reconnect public health with good planning. 'Planning Healthier Places' is an important and very helpful aid for those who want to plan and design in better health for local people. "

The TCPA and Andrew Ross are grateful to the following organisations for funding this project:

● Bristol City Council

● First Ark Group

● Hertfordshire County Council

● Lincolnshire County Council

● Manchester City Council

● Newham Council

● Planning Exchange Foundation

● Stockport Council

● West Midlands Learning for Public Health

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