On Monday the 21st of January, in a packed committee room in the House of Lords, the latest report on healthy planning from the TCPA was launched.

The report re-examines the effectiveness of the collaboration between the planning, public health and healthcare sectors, looking into what has been achieved or changed in England and Wales since 2012. Although significant improvements have been made, the report makes 15 recommendations, aimed at national governments, their respective agencies and policy-makers in local areas, for bolder, more-effective action.

Hosted by Baroness Whitaker, the event began with an introduction from the TCPA chair, Mary Parsons. Mary highlighted the importance of enshrining health and wellbeing in to the planning system to achieve a better and fairer society, and the fantastic reach that the TCPA health work has had since 2012. Michael Chang, projects and policy manager at the TCPA, introduced the report and the ongoing work strand of health at the TCPA throughout the country. He said collaboration between the public health, planners, councillors, builders and all relevant bodies is key.

Alice Wiseman, director of public health at Gateshead Council, discussed the serious challenges of obesity and mental health Gateshead faces and the need to tackle obesogenic environments through societal changes, ensuring that “people are able to thrive”.

Phil Mason, strategic director for economic growth and development at Cornwall Council, reiterated Cornwall’s commitment to the fundamental link between health and planning, stating “we don’t have to build buildings to make places better for people”.

Ian Greggor, director of estates and facilities at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust discussed the “incredibly important investment” of health, saying that we must get better at speaking the same language which will in turn encourage area wide conversations and partnerships. Ian finished by saying we should be “adding life to years and not just year to life”.

The final panelist was leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Councillor Danny Thorpe. Thousands of new homes are planned and being built in Greenwich and Cllr Thorpe discussed importance of working with developers to ensure they fully comply with the health strategy and to make full use of tools such as London Health Urban Development Unit (HUDU) and reports such as this one.

The launch concluded with Mary Parson affirming that this is a complex challenge, and we need to work on building relationships, sharing knowledge and reaching out to each other to really commit to healthy planning. As recommendation three of the report states: ‘partners in local planning and health systems should work together to adopt a clearly defined set of priorities and an integrated approach to planning for health and wellbeing, starting with local representative bodies of the health system to ensure that their respective delivery plans and strategies are aligned’.

State of the Union: Reuniting health with planning is available here along with all other publications under TCPA’s work on ‘Reuniting Health with Planning’.