National Planning Policy Framework

8. Promoting healthy communities

Paragraphs 69 to 78

69. The planning system can play an important role in facilitating social interaction and creating healthy, inclusive communities. Local planning authorities should create a shared vision with communities of the residential environment and facilities they wish to see. To support this, local planning authorities should aim to involve all sections of the community in the development of Local Plans and in planning decisions, and should facilitate neighbourhood planning. Planning policies and decisions, in turn, should aim to achieve places which promote:

  • opportunities for meetings between members of the community who might not otherwise come into contact with each other, including through mixed-use developments, strong neighbourhood centres and active street frontages which bring together those who work, live and play in the vicinity
  • safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion
  • safe and accessible developments, containing clear and legible pedestrian routes, and high quality public space, which encourage the active and continual use of public areas.

70. To deliver the social, recreational and cultural facilities and services the community needs, planning policies and decisions should:

  • plan positively for the provision and use of shared space, community facilities (such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship) and other local services to enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments
  • guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce the community’s ability to meet its day-to-day needs
  • ensure that established shops, facilities and services are able to develop and modernise in a way that is sustainable, and retained for the benefit of the community
  • ensure an integrated approach to considering the location of housing, economic uses and community facilities and services

71. Local planning authorities should take a positive and collaborative approach to enable development to be brought forward under a Community Right to Build Order, including working with communities to identify and resolve key issues before applications are submitted.

72. The government attaches great importance to ensuring that a sufficient choice of school places is available to meet the needs of existing and new communities. Local planning authorities should take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to meeting this requirement, and to development that will widen choice in education. They should:

  • give great weight to the need to create, expand or alter schools
  • work with schools promoters to identify and resolve key planning issues before applications are submitted.

73. Access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to the health and well-being of communities. Planning policies should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the needs for open space, sports and recreation facilities and opportunities for new provision. The assessments should identify specific needs and quantitative or qualitative deficits or surpluses of open space, sports and recreational facilities in the local area. Information gained from the assessments should be used to determine what open space, sports and recreational provision is required.

74. Existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields, should not be built on unless:

  • an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space, buildings or land to be surplus to requirements
  • the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location
  • the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the needs for which clearly outweigh the loss.

75. Planning policies should protect and enhance public rights of way and access. Local authorities should seek opportunities to provide better facilities for users, for example by adding links to existing rights of way networks including National Trails.

76. Local communities through local and neighbourhood plans should be able to identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them. By designating land as Local Green Space local communities will be able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances. Identifying land as Local Green Space should therefore be consistent with the local planning of sustainable development and complement investment in sufficient homes, jobs and other essential services. Local Green Spaces should only be designated when a plan is prepared or reviewed, and be capable of enduring beyond the end of the plan period.

Related guidance: Open space, green space and rights of way

77. The Local Green Space designation will not be appropriate for most green areas or open space. The designation should only be used:

  • where the green space is in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves
  • where the green area is demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife
  • where the green area concerned is local in character and is not an extensive tract of land

Related guidance: Open space, green space and rights of way

78. Local policy for managing development within a Local Green Space should be consistent with policy for Green Belts.

Related guidance: Open space, green space and rights of way