The TCPA welcomes today’s report, ‘Prevention in Health and Social Care: healthy places’, published by the Health and Social Care Committee, which recognises the vital role of place in preventing ill health. As the report makes clear, population health is profoundly influenced by the places where people live – from the quality of homes to the design of neighbourhoods.
The TCPA has long championed that the way places are planned, designed, built, and managed has a significant influence over whether communities are able to live healthy lives. As part of our Campaign for Healthy Homes, the TCPA has identified 11 principles that all new homes must achieve, including adequate living space, thermal comfort, and access to local amenities and green spaces. We are pleased that the Committee’s recommendations include a focus on improved housing standards to protect people from poor quality and unsafe housing.
Despite an established body of evidence that illustrates the direct and indirect impact of the built environment on mental and physical health, the role of planning in determining health outcomes continues to be marginalised in national planning policy. The government’s focus on housing targets has emphasised the quantity of new homes being delivered, rather than their quality, with serious implications for public health. The recent update of the National Planning Policy Framework [December 2023] represents yet another missed opportunity to embed health evidence and objectives throughout planning policy.
Planning policy needs fundamental reform to ensure that health and wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities, are at its heart. We hope that the government responds in a meaningful way to the report’s recommendations to ensure better and more inclusive health outcomes for everyone.
“The consensus is that the NHS provides about 20% to 30% of the things that keep us heathy, but the overwhelming majority of factors that keep us healthy are the places where we live and work, and the environments in which we find ourselves. All of these are shaped by planning, so it is essential that planning policy is included in any cross-government initiatives to reduce health inequalities.” Julia Thrift, Director of Healthier Place-making, TCPA