There are many reasons why planners should work with health professionals to explicitly tackle health issues.
- Legislative: the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) including the delivery of sustainable development through planning. The National Planning Practice Guidance provides guidance on complying with the NPPF.;
- Ethical/economic: the need for planning to address health inequalities and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities, as outlined in the Marmot Review;
- Scientific: there is robust evidence of the impact of the environment (and therefore planning) on health and health inequalities;
- Budgetary: pooling resources on tasks such as evidence gathering could enable shared needs for robust evidence to be addressed more cost effectively.
Joint working with health professionals (e.g. public health, NHS) will fulfil statutory obligations linked to participatory inclusion of local stakeholders and preparing a sound Local Plan. This includes ensuring that health service expansion is effectively planned to meet the needs of a growing population (taking into account the locations and quantity of new development proposed in Local Plans).
“The planning system can play an important role in facilitating social interaction and creating healthy, inclusive communities.”
Joint working between NHS health professionals and planning could also facilitate the efficient and appropriate redevelopment of the NHS estate by ensuring that key planning issues are identified and worked through together from an early stage. This could include expansion of existing health facilities as well as exploration of alternative uses for surplus land (e.g. the Smith Institute have recently argued that the use of such land for supported housing would generate significant savings to the NHS).