Bristol has a “Healthy Urban Team” that includes a dedicated health and planning lead, Stephen Hewitt, who is located in the planning department and funded by public health.
Bristol’s 2012 JSNA includes a section on healthy cities and the determinants of health that are affected by the built environment. It states that “a healthier city… needs an integrated approach to planning the built environment to create a supportive environment and infrastructure”.
The Core Strategy (a key strategic planning document adopted in June 2011) aims to deliver “A safe and healthy city made up of thriving neighbourhoods with a high quality of life” and has “Better health and well-being” as one of its eleven objectives:
5. Better health and wellbeing a pattern of development and urban design that promotes good health and wellbeing and provides good places and communities to live in. Bristol will have open space and green infrastructure, high quality healthcare, leisure, sport, culture and tourism facilities which are accessible by walking, cycling and public transport. This will help enable active lifestyles, improve quality of life and reduce pollution.
Bristol Council has agreed a formal protocol with NHS Bristol for involving their input on planning applications. The purpose was to support the explicit and systematic consideration of impacts on health outcomes in the assessment and determination of planningapplications. The protocol specifies that NHS Bristol will be consulted on specific types of planning application at specific stage, such as pre-applications discussions on ‘super’ major developments (100+ dwellings or 10,000 m2 floorspace); applications involving the loss of public open space; and hot food takeaways. Responses have included desktop Health Impact Assessments (HIAs), consultation letters setting out key points and recommendations for approval (with conditions) or refusal; and requests for section 106 funding of health services/infrastructure.
A formal evaluation of the first year’s implementation of the protocol, published online by University of West of England indicated that the protocol has brought extensive health and wellbeing expertise into the development management process and strengthened officers’ arguments in discussions with developers. In addition, some NHS responses have influenced the shape of future developments, particularly in the case of super-major applications. Implementation barriers have includes limited human resources and differences in the evidence base used in public health and development planning.
The report highlighted that public health needs to learn to adapt its contribution to a well-established development management system: “In particular public health needs to ensure that responses are more closely related to adopted national and local planning policies; without losing its aspirations and ethics of challenging and advocating for better and higher standards to improve the health of the population. This also means that it needs to continue to be involved in the upstream planning policy development work too.” (p.iii)
Source: Carmichael, L., Grant, M. and Hewitt, S. (2013) The Bristol Health and Planning Protocol – First year evaluation. Project Report. Bristol City Council.