Health and planning

Planning alone cannot solve the health challenges that we currently face.

However, planning has a major role in shaping the places where we live, work and spend our leisure time. These places can directly or indirectly affect our health and wellbeing through:

  • creating attractive and safe environments
  • enabling us to access education, work and services
  • enabling us to be active, through travel, recreation and play
  • providing access to healthcare services
  • providing access to healthy food
  • providing access to green/open spaces
  • providing protection from environmental hazards such as air pollution
  • creating places where the community can interact
  • enabling us to travel safely and efficiently

Through good planning decisions, we can support and promote good health in our local communities, thus contributing to Sustainable Communities.

The Local Health Sector

Many see the health sector as one single organisation/entity - ‘health’ or ‘the NHS’, however, the reality is much more complicated. The local health sector is made up of several different organisations including:

These local health organisations are working with Northamptonshire Adult Social Care Services, District and Borough Councils, the voluntary sector and other partners within the Northamptonshire Health & Care Partnership.

Health and Wellbeing in Planning Policy

There is increasing recognition that planning policy needs to address health and wellbeing effectively so that planning decisions support good health and wellbeing and minimise any negative health impacts of new development.

The National Planning Policy Framework seeks to promote healthy and safe communities, stating that planning policies and decisions should aim to achieve healthy, inclusive and safe places.

Health and wellbeing are addressed further in the National Planning Guidance on Promoting Healthy and Safe Communities.

This identifies that planners should engage with local health partners to help achieve healthier new developments and deliver the appropriate healthcare facilities to meet the needs of the residents of new developments.

Local Planning Policy

Increasingly, local planning policy is beginning to address health and wellbeing in a more structured and comprehensive way. 

The current North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy (JCS) seeks to ensure quality of life and safer and healthier communities through the place-shaping principles set out in Policy 8. Supporting policies are included in the authority’s Part 2 Local Plans, where some areas require certain developments to be informed by Health Impact Assessments (see below). 

The new North Northamptonshire Local Plan, currently in production, will update and strengthen the policies in the JCS to help shape places where health and wellbeing are considered in every element of development and where inequalities in health and wellbeing are reduced. Apart from obvious benefits to people’s wellbeing, this should assist in reducing demands on the local NHS and social care services.

The Council will ensure that we have access to, and make appropriate use of, tools and processes for assessing and improving the design of development such as Building for a Healthy Life (BHL) 2020.

Health Impact Assessment

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a practical way to identify and assess the effects a proposal may have on the health and wellbeing of different groups of people. Undertaking a HIA in relation to a development proposal can help judge the likely health impacts of that proposal and help ensure any positive health impacts are achieved and negative health impacts minimised.

A local Northamptonshire-wide HIA process has been created - this can be acquired from the Council’s planning policy team by contacting [email protected]

Last updated 31 July 2023