Planning

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.

They are also able to draw on input from the WHO collaborating centre for healthy urban environments at the University of the West of England.

The 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 will not come just from individual actions, but needs an integrated approach to planning the built environment to create a supportive environment and infrastructure”.

The Core Strategy (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:

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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.

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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 should be consulted on:

  • Pre-applications discussions on ‘super’ major developments (100+ dwellings or 10,000 m2 floorspace)
  • 10 or more dwellings
  • 1,000 m2or more floorspace
  • Loss of public open space
  • Hot food takeaways

Responses have included desktop HIAs, consultation letters setting out key points and recommendations for approval (with conditions) or refusal; section 106 funding requests may also be included.

A formal evaluation of the first year’s implementation of the protocol, published online by UWE 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 paper shows that the involvement of public health practitioners in planning decisions and policies can help deliver health outcomes of the built environment through cross-sector working and bringing a broad and robust evidence base to local policies.