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Health and Planning

Health & Wellbeing

In many ways, great progress has been made in relation to Health and Wellbeing in recent years. Healthcare has seen great improvements and innovations, so that many more illnesses can be treated effectively. Environmental hazards, such as polluted water supplies and waste disposal are usually managed much more effectively now than they used to be.  Vaccination programmes have substantially reduced the harm of many infectious diseases. These things have contributed to us generally living longer. For example, life expectancy in England has risen dramatically, almost doubling since the mid 1800s.

So, what’s the problem?

Despite us generally living longer lives and achieving significant improvements in healthcare, it's not all good news. Unfortunately, many of us are now spending a significant part of our lives in poor health. As well as having a major impact on individual wellbeing and quality of life, this is:

  • Creating pressure on health and social care services.
  • Having an impact on the economy
  • Resulting in significant health inequalities across different sections of the community, with some groups experiencing much worse health than others.

Trends in ill health and death have changed, with major causes being non-communicable diseases (which can’t be passed from person to person) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

These can be influenced by a range of things including diet, being overweight, smoking, alcohol consumption and lack of physical activity, which in turn can be influenced by the wider environment around us. This poor health is a major issue for Northamptonshire, as it is for the whole country.

Health & Planning – the role of planning in supporting health and wellbeing

Planning alone cannot solve the health challenges that we currently face. However, planning has a major role in shaping the places where we live, work and spend our leisure time. These places can directly or indirectly affect our health and wellbeing through:

  • Creating attractive and safe environments
  • Enabling us to access education, work and services.
  • Enabling us to be active, through travel, recreation and play.
  • Providing access to healthcare services.
  • Providing access to healthy food
  • Providing access to green / open spaces
  • Providing protection from environmental hazards such as air pollution
  • Creating places where the community can interact
  • Enabling us to travel safely and efficiently

Through good planning decisions we can support and promote good health amongst our local communities, thus contributing to Sustainable Communities.

Northamptonshire Health & Planning Programme

Locally, planning and health functions within the County have recognised the need for the two to work together more closely to better support the health and wellbeing of our residents.

The key objectives of the Northamptonshire Health & Planning Programme are to ensure that:

  • Health care infrastructure needs and supporting evidence are identified in order to feed into the planning process.
  • Healthcare infrastructure is delivered as part of major new developments in the county and developer contributions (e.g. section 106 funding) are secured to support its delivery (This could be through on site provision or through enhanced provision / access to health care services in the vicinity of the new development.)
  • New developments are designed and built in ways which support and promote health and wellbeing. (e.g. in relation to active travel / healthy food / open spaces, play and recreation / neighbourhoods and social infrastructure / building layout and design / local economy etc.)

Northamptonshire Health & Planning Protocol

This document was written to give an overview of the planning and health functions in the county and how they can link together.

The Local Health Sector

Many see the health sector as one single organisation / entity - ‘health’ or ‘the NHS’, however the reality is much more complicated. The local health sector is made up of a number of different organisations including:

These local health organisations are working with Northamptonshire Adult Social Care Services, District and Borough Councils, the voluntary sector and other partners within the Northamptonshire Health & Care Partnership.

Health and Wellbeing in Planning Policy.

There is increasing recognition that planning policy needs to address health and wellbeing effectively so that planning decisions support good health and wellbeing and minimise any negative health impacts of new development.

The National Planning Policy Framework requires health and wellbeing to be addressed in local planning policy (see extracts below):

8. Promoting healthy and safe communities

91. Planning policies and decisions should aim to achieve healthy, inclusive and safe places which:

c) enable and support healthy lifestyles, especially where this would address identified local health and well-being needs – for example through the provision of safe and accessible green infrastructure, sports facilities, local shops, access to healthier food, allotments and layouts that encourage walking and cycling.

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

b) take into account and support the delivery of local strategies to improve health, social and cultural well-being for all sections of the community;

Health and wellbeing are addressed further in the National Planning Guidance on Promoting Healthy and Safe Communities

This identifies that planners should engage with local health partners to help achieve healthier new developments and deliver the appropriate healthcare facilities to meet the needs of the residents of new developments.

Local Planning Policy

Increasingly, local planning policy is beginning to address health and wellbeing in a more structured and comprehensive way. For example, South Northamptonshire Council’s draft Part 2 Local Plan includes a specific Health and Wellbeing Policy and requires all major development proposals to include a Health Impact Assessment.  Similar policies have been included in Local Plans and draft Local Plans for Northampton, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Corby.

Health Impact Assessment

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a practical way to identify and assess the effects a proposal may have on the health and wellbeing of different groups of people. Undertaking a HIA in relation to a development proposal can help judge the likely health impacts of that proposal and help ensure any positive health impacts are achieved and negative health impacts minimised. A local Northamptonshire HIA process has been created to assist

Guidance / further information: