28 Mar 2018
Whilst the connection between the quality of the built environment and health outcomes has long been established, in 2012 the NPPF introduced a step change in the breadth of factors that we as place-makers should be considering as part of the planning process. Gone were the days of ‘health’ policy being limited to the delivery of a health centre, or ensuring a site can be accessed by a footpath. The NPPF recognised that the health of communities can be affected by decisions across a range of land uses, from spaces that encourage social interaction to the provision of schools, and from the delivery of social, recreational and cultural facilities to the active use of public areas. Whilst no definition of health is included in the current NPPF, the thrust of chapter 8, ‘Promoting healthy Communities’, reflects the World Health Organization’s well-recognised definition: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Chapter 8 of the consultation draft NPPF retains this broad approach but of greatest significance, the chapter includes added emphasis on the promotion of safe communities. Overall there is a clear aim for policies and decisions to achieve healthy, inclusive and safe places. To this end, the chapter continues to promote social interaction and the creation of safe and accessible places where crime and disorder - and the fear of crime - do not undermine community cohesion. However, there is also a new paragraph on enabling and supporting healthy lifestyles through the provision, for example, of safe and accessible green infrastructure, sports facilities, local shops, access to healthier food, allotments and layouts that encourage walking cycling.
By far the most significant proposed change in this chapter (and one that reinforces its new title) is the introduction of a paragraph to promote public safety and to take into account wider security and defence requirements (paragraph 96). The proposals are unfortunately responding to our modern reality that attacks do occur (thankfully relatively rarely in the UK). Whilst back in July 2017 the Chief Planner reminded local planning authorities of the role the planning system plays in ensuring appropriate measures are in place in relation to counter-terrorism and crime prevention security, national policy has been restricted to general paragraphs on crime in Chapter 8. The draft NPPF is now more explicit and introduces two elements to the proposed policy:
anticipating and addressing all plausible malicious threats and natural hazards, especially in locations where large numbers of people are expected to congregate; and,
recognising and supporting development required for operational defence and security purposes, and ensuring that operational sites are not affected adversely by the impact of other development proposed in the area.
In terms of the first element, the draft NPPF helpfully provides examples (but not an exhaustive list) of relevant locations as a footnote (Footnote 32). There are some of these developments that are more obvious for assessment (e.g. sports facilities and places of worship) but the need to assess restaurants is perhaps less so. However, the examples reflect the sectors identified in the Crowded Places Guidance (2017) published by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office and highlights that having better security for all these areas makes it harder for terrorists to plan and carry out attacks as well as reducing the risk of other threats such as organised crime.
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For crime prevention reasons, we are already familiar with the careful choice of what information (such as internal layouts) to include on submitted plans, but these proposed assessments will require more in-depth consideration and analysis. Applicants and their consultant teams will need to work closely with local police, counter-terrorism security advisors and local authority emergency planning teams as part of the pre-application stages of a project. Having worked on a similar statement in the past, confidentiality is key; many of these discussions are likely to take place behind closed doors and the final assessments will be published in confidential reports. The Crowded Places Guidance is an excellent starting point for developers and their design teams.
Turning to the remainder of the chapter, the other main proposed change relates to estate regeneration (paragraph 94). It states that planning policies and decisions should consider the social and economic benefits of estate regeneration (which can include better homes, improvements to neighbourhoods, new community facilities, training and employment and more). The draft Framework also states that local planning authorities should use their planning powers to help deliver estate regeneration to a high standard. It’s clear that the Government links estate regeneration to improved health outcomes. However, the need for close engagement with the community is arguably not one of the Government’s priorities – a notable difference when compared with the London Mayor’s recent consultation on resident ballots, and draft paragraph 153 which introduces the need to consider community views on the acceptability of wind energy development.
In discussing national planning policy on health, it is noted that the draft revised NPPF does not introduce any new requirement for Health Impact Assessments (HIA) to accompany planning applications. However, from experience we know that local planning authorities are increasingly issuing guidance on creating healthy communities and making HIAs an application validation requirement for a range of development proposals. In the context of extreme fiscal challenges, the NHS, Public Health England, local authority teams and government departments continue to look at prevention measures across all policy areas. As such, it is expected that the number of local planning authorities that require the health implications of proposed developments to be assessed at application stage will rise further, as more post-NPPF plans are adopted.
Overall, promoting healthy communities is staying very much on the Government’s planning agenda but with a new focus on national security and defence, beyond what has been seen before.
See our other blogs in this series:
National Planning Policy Framework review: what to expect?
Draft revised National Planning Policy Framework: a change in narrative
NPPF consultation proposals – what could they mean for town centres?
NPPF consultations – what could they mean for designers?
Draft NPPF: heritage policy is conserved…
Draft NPPF: implications for aviation?
Draft NPPF: Business as usual?
Lichfields will publish further analysis of the consultation on the revised NPPF and its implications. Click here to subscribe for updates.
Image credit: Deptford Market Yard
02 Nov 2017
I am looking forward to attending the Rural Entrepreneur Live event at Birmingham’s NEC next Wednesday (8 November 2017). In readiness I have dusted off a recent blog I prepared on the importance of the ‘Staycation’ to the South West economy, which was first published for Insider back in July.
Travelling with a young child is not easy. Not only is there the challenge of packing everything you need into too few suitcases but you need to keep the toddler entertained during travel and be on full alert in the hottest of climes. And that is if things go well. Last summer my three year old daughter caught chicken pox on holiday in Italy. Had we been on holiday in the UK we would have simply driven home to our creature comforts.
Our experience was simply bad luck. But, I have to say that those events made us think, should we stay in the UK this year? We are not alone. Holidaying in the UK is a popular choice that many of us are increasingly making. According to VisitBritain 44.7m holiday trips were taken in England in 2016, 2 per cent higher than in 2015 and 12 per cent higher than in 2008. Whilst the total number of holidays each year has fluctuated the ten year trend for England shows growth.
Source: GB Tourism Survey
The 2008 global financial crisis and the 2009 UK recession corresponded to a significant boost in the growth of domestic holiday trips in England, perhaps the two doing more to promote the Great British holiday than anything for some time. The change in exchange rates between the Pound and other currencies have helped. The ‘weak’ pound makes the traditional Mediterranean holiday not as value for money as it once did – paying in Pounds for a 10€ pizza is 16 per cent more expensive in July 2017 than it was on the 23 June 2016 and nearly 30 per cent more expensive than two summers ago.This is not yet as staggering a change as in 2008, but significant nonetheless for British holidaymakers in Europe.
Source: Bank of England
We are also taking more holidays: the ONS reports that 2016 saw a record number of visits to the UK by overseas residents and visits abroad by UK residents. We are finding excuses to take more short breaks by celebrating greater numbers of life events and with an appetite for gaining new experiences on holiday, the so called ‘staycation’ or holidaying in the UK is growing and it is boosting the UK’s economy.
Around £85bn was spent on tourism in England in 2015 and when direct and indirect benefits are taken into account tourism in England contributes £106bn to the British economy while supporting 2.6m jobs (Visit Britain 2016).
Tourist spending in local economies is for the taking and regions should be vying to increase their share. Between 2006 and 2015 , the South West experienced a 21 per cent growth in tourism spending. However, whilst this is strong performance, the region has seen its share of tourism national spend decrease (from 31 per cent to 29 per cent) despite tourism spending in England rising by 32 per cent over the same period. Whilst this is good news for the English tourism sector, it’s a lost opportunity for the South West.
Source: GB Tourism Survey
Without a doubt there are opportunities within the South West to reverse this trend. Indeed, the quality and beauty of the beaches and coastline go far beyond those I have visited in any Mediterranean country. It will be those local authorities that welcome and actively encourage tourism development that will gain the greatest economic benefits to boost their local economies.
Local planning policies have often been restrictive and focused upon the control and limitations of development, such as holiday parks. But investment by operators is vital. The most proactive are focused on ensuring that their facilities and accommodation can attract repeat and new visitors year after year.
We are seeing some local planning authorities in the South West responding positively to the challenge. Cornwall Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council are two examples where they recognise the need to support the tourist market through constructive policies and a culture of seeking opportunities. In my view this must continue to ensure the South West does not lose out to other regions who are also looking how to strengthen their share of that increased expenditure.
As a country we are good at showcasing our tourism offer and while we continue to find excuses to spend a weekend or week away in the UK, the South West must take advantage of its strong position and ensure that we maintain and grow our regional tourism offer in the future. The ‘staycation’ seems to be here to, well, stay.
In May, Lichfields published the Rural estates: economic benefits of rural tourism insight. This examined rural areas and the potential for country estates to diversify their existing operations, to include provision of tourist accommodation.