The Environmental Audit Committee's latest report, ‘Action on Air Quality’, recommends that new schools, hospitals and care homes must not be built next to air pollution hotspots such as road intersections to help reduce tens of thousands of deaths caused by nitrogen dioxide and particulate pollution each year.
"Urgent change is needed in transport and planning policy to save lives and ensure that the UK meets European safety targets much sooner than the expected dates indicated by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs," the report says.
It calls on local authorities to use the existing air quality policy in the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure that new schools and workplaces have adequate public transport links and be easily reached by bicycle or foot from the surrounding community to reduce the need for car journeys.
The committee recommends including legal air quality obligations in new infrastructure and road building plans.
The report also calls for the introduction of a national framework of Low Emission Zones (LEZs) to enable LEZs to be rolled out across the country
London has operated a zone since 2008 and LEZs are one of the "most powerful tools" that local authorities have for controlling vehicle emissions, according to the report.