News story

New national planning policy and guidance aims to promote health and reduce inequalities

The impact built environments have on the health of communities is recognised in newly launched national guidance.

Happy children playing in a park

Public Health England welcomes the Department for Communities and Local Government’s newly published National Planning Practice Guidance which recognises the importance of local infrastructure planning in the development of healthy communities.

Nick Boles, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Planning, announced the guidance last week which supports the National Planning Policy Framework and now includes a section on health and wellbeing. This guidance sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied by local authorities.

A significant development in the guidance is the recognition of the important role the planning system can play in facilitating social interaction and creating healthy, inclusive communities. Local planning authorities should ensure that health and wellbeing, and health infrastructure are considered in local and neighbourhood plans and in planning decision making.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said;

The inclusion of a health and wellbeing section in the guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government has, we believe, for the first time recognised the need for new developments to consider wider public health issues.

The newly launched policy and guidance refer to using health impact assessments to consider any significant impacts on health; addressing health inequalities, providing equal access to healthier food and open spaces, and promoting active travel and physical activity.

It is important to account for the impact built and natural environments have on the health and wellbeing of communities. This is a positive step in engaging public health colleagues, who are now embedded in local authorities across England, with the planning system.

Together, the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance set out the government’s national planning policies and guidance for new development. They aim to help create the homes and jobs that the country needs, while protecting and enhancing the natural and historic environments.

For more information visit the Department for Communities and Local Government website.

Published 13 March 2014