Worcestershire councils consult on planning for health document

Developers of residential schemes comprising more than 25 homes would be required to assess the impact of their proposals on health and health inequalities, under plans contained in a supplementary planning document (SPD) published for consultation by three Worcestershire authorities.

Health: document seeks to ensure positive health outcomes are supported by planning system
Health: document seeks to ensure positive health outcomes are supported by planning system

Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council have published a consultation on their new Planning for Health SPD, which is intended to set out guidelines on how developments can be designed to encourage healthier lifestyles.

According to the document, it does not introduce any new policy but "supports the interpretation and application of existing policies and proposals" in the councils’ key planning document, the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP), by providing further guidance.

The document provides guidance on the use of Health Impact Assessments (HIA) which it says are intended to ensure "that the effects of development on both health and health inequalities are considered and addressed during the planning process".

"HIA is undertaken to predict the health implications on a population of implementing a plan, policy, programme or project, and in doing so aids the decision-making process.

"HIA should aim to enhance the potential positive aspects of a proposal through assessment, while avoiding or minimising any negative impacts, with particular emphasis on disadvantaged sections of communities that might be affected", the document says.

The draft guidance says that HIAs should be undertaken for residential and mixed-use sites of 25 homes or more, employment sites of 5 hectares (gross) or more, retail developments over 500 square metres (Gross Internal Area), or any other sites as requested by the local planning authority.

The draft guidelines cover a range of other subjects, including:

  • The importance of good design for housing and commercial developments that encourages walking and cycling
  • Encouraging healthier diets by making space available to enable communities to grow food locally and discouraging a build-up of hot food takeaways, especially near schools
  • Encouraging healthy work spaces which are well ventilated and offer access to green space and other recreational opportunities, with the aim of improving physical and mental health
  • Providing open spaces and seating to encourage social interaction
  • Ensuring services and facilities are accessible to people without a car.

The consultation runs until 27 January 2017.

The three councils expect to adopt the final document in May 2017.

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