Government moots devolution of health-related planning powers

A pilot programme in a London borough looking at ways planning policy can be used to improve public health could be rolled out across the capital, the government has announced.

Fast food: health pilot will look at planning interventions to improve health
Fast food: health pilot will look at planning interventions to improve health

The London health devolution agreement, published yesterday, is intended to devolve more powers over health to London boroughs.

The document says that central government and national bodies "commit to partnering" in the development of the Haringey Prevention Partnership, which will look at how existing powers around fast food, alcohol, tobacco and gambling control can best be applied to improve public health.

"As part of this, national bodies and London partners commit to examining the interaction between planning policy and guidance and the pilot’s public health objectives. If this process identifies approaches where the planning policy framework could drive substantively better outcomes for public health and other government objectives, national bodies commit to further discussions with London partners to explore these options", the document says.

The agreement also says that government "will be active partners in the prevention pilot and commit to wider roll out if interventions prove successful and if local organisations are in agreement". 

The London Borough of Haringey said the devolution deal would see the council "lead the way in investigating the need for local authorities to be given new planning and licensing powers to create healthier communities."

Claire Kober, leader of Haringey Council, said: "This will mean we are able to take decisive action such as combating the harmful effects of fast food, alcohol, tobacco and gambling; and ensure that people get access to quicker and more personalised forms of support.

"In a climate of diminishing budgets and rising demand for services, giving local agencies greater powers to use alongside their unique expertise and knowledge will help us to shape a healthier environment, where inequalities are tackled and more people are supported to live in long, healthy and fulfilling lives."

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