More 'weight' may be given to applications achieving healthy weight environments
Guidance on ‘Using the planning system to promote healthy weight environments’ has recently been published by Public Health England (PHE).
A healthy-weight environment is one that fully supports individuals and local communities in maintaining a healthy weight.
To achieve this through the planning process, six elements have been set out by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and PHE. These are:
- Movement and access – promoting active travel and physical activity
- Open spaces, recreation and play – providing spaces for leisure, recreation and play
- Food environment – encouraging healthier food options
- Neighbourhood spaces - improving public realm and community facilities
- Building design – creating buildings that promote a healthy lifestyle
- Local economy – supporting people into local employment in accessible places
The main purpose of the guidance is to support and encourage local authorities to use their planning powers to tackle the drivers of obesity by promoting health and reducing inequality. This will be done at a local level through the development of their own policies and SPDs.
This is consistent with the direction of national planning policy as the NPPF and PPG support the inclusion of health and wellbeing in planning policy and decision making and set out the responsibilities of local authorities in creating well-designed and safe built environments that support the health and wellbeing of communities.
The NPPF has a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which is formed of three pillars: social, environmental and economic. Whilst mainly within the social dimension, health and wellbeing spans across all three pillars and is continuing to scale the planning agenda.
This guidance was produced following requests from local authorities, indicating that health and wellbeing is an increasing priority for councils and suggests that going forward, they intend to incorporate it much more into local policy and guidance. Therefore, it is likely that planning applications which demonstrate that they will address the six elements required to achieve healthy weight environments, are likely to be looked on favourably and given more ‘weight’ in decision taking.