“Health and built environment professionals urgently need to come together to meet the challenges of increasing levels of obesity and the cost of treating related chronic diseases. We are seeing unprecedented levels of investment in our built environment, but greater cross-departmental working by national government, along with better co-ordination between primary care trusts and local authorities, will be essential if we are to make the most of the unique opportunity this presents.”
(Briefing on Physical Activity and the Built Environment, CABE, October 2006)

Planning Toolkit

There is increasing evidence being published on the relationship between the design and development of the built environment and health. Measures are being looked at to promote and create built or natural environments that encourage and support physical activity, healthy eating and wellbeing to improve the nation’s health. In 2008 the Welsh Assembly Government supported a conference organised by the Wales Centre for Health which aimed to raise the issue and highlight the important role that planners, designers, architects and developers have to play in addressing public health.

The Welsh Assembly Government decided to use the learning from this conference to develop a toolkit that would provide a ‘one stop shop’ for guidance and best practice.

A workshop was held on 16 July 2009 using the ‘world café’ facilitation approach. The aim was to encourage professionals in planning and health to use collaborative approaches, develop a shared understanding and identify resources and processes that could assess, quantify and optimise the benefits and impacts of planning decisions on health. It sparked discussion around the proposed toolkit; whether or not it would be a useful tool, and if so what type of information and links would be most useful for both agendas?

It was clear from the discussions at the workshop that individuals from the planning side and the health side have similar views on the importance of linking the two areas of work. It was identified that different processes and professional languages have been major stumbling blocks in bringing the areas together. A number of suggestions were made as to how the planning and health agendas could be linked in more formal ways, encouraging the use of tools and evidence to ensure that an infrastructure is in place for health benefits. A wide range of potential information sources and tools was identified that could help populate the toolkit.

Launch of Planet Health Cymru
Planet Health Cymru – Planning for Environment, Transport and Health in Wales is a web based tool commissioned by the Welsh Government following the publication of ‘Creating an Active Wales’ the new physical activity action plan for Wales. Aimed at practitioners working in planning, transport, urban design, development, architecture and public health; Planet Health Cymru is a ‘one stop shop’ for information on improving the relationship between the environment and the nation’s health.
It provides data, relevant policies and guidance as well as examples of good practice across the development sector. This resource has been developed due to the increasing evidence available on the relationship between the design and development of both the built and natural environments and the nation’s health.

Planet Health Cymru is run by the Physical Activity and Nutrition Networks Wales which is managed by Public Health Wales. The project is overseen and quality assured by a wide range of key partners including the Welsh Government, RTPI, WLGA, Design Commission for Wales, Institution of Civil Engineers, Centre for Regeneration Excellence in Wales, Countryside Council for Wales and the Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit.

Planet Health Cymru was launched in November 2010. To view the website please visit

Policy and Strategy in Wales

Current land use planning policy is contained in ‘Planning Policy Wales’ (March 2002) which provides the strategic policy framework for the effective preparation of local planning authorities’ development plans. This document is supplemented by twenty technical advice notes (TAN) which are topic based.

All local planning Authorities must prepare local Development plans. These plans contain the policy of the Welsh Government. Decisions on local planning applications are based on these plans.
For more information on these plans, please visit the Welsh Government website.
For information on the Wales Transport Strategy, The National Transport plan and Region Transport Plans (RTP’s) please visit the Transport pages of the Welsh Assembly Government website.

Where to go for further information…

Health Impact Assessment (HIA)

HIA provides decision-makers with information about how any policy, programme or project may affect the health of people. HIA seeks to influence decision-makers to improve the proposal.
The Welsh Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (WHIASU) provides support to those practicing HIA, those who are new to HIA and those who are looking for information. For further information please visit the WHIASU website.
WHO also have further information on HIA accessible at the WHO website.

Design Commission for Wales

Design Commission for Wales (DCfW) is a national organisation, which is core funded by the Welsh Government. DCfW are one of four UK Commissions that have been established to champion good design and a high quality built environment.


CABE stands for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. Fundamentally CABE works on behalf of the public, encouraging better design for buildings and open spaces. CABE encourage policy makers to create places that are safe, beautiful and efficient to run. CABE is and England based public agency.

The Planning portal

The Planning portal is the first port of call for anyone wanting to find out about the planning system in England and Wales. The aim is to provide a one-stop-shop supplying answers, services and information to anyone involved in the planning process.

International Projects and Resources

WHO Healthy Cities Project

The World Health Organization Healthy Cities project was launched in 1978. Its ambition is to promote health and well-being through action at the level of individual local authorities. Healthy Cities is a global movement. Healthy Cities networks are established in all six WHO regions.
Urban Health Topics…

WHO Centre for Healthy Cities

The WHO Centre undertakes research and provides advice/training in the fields of healthy urban planning and sustainable neighbourhoods and collaborative decision processes needed to support stakeholders in these fields. Primarily set up to support the Healthy Cities network the Centre has also established itself in the UK for promoting better understanding of the interlocked nature of health and planning. It has a strong track record of working with national, regional and local interests from both traditions.

A healthy city is an active city: a physical activity planning guide

This guide supports the planning for physical activity, active living and sport in cities and communities. The guide describes how the approach relates to the Healthy Cities movement, why active living opportunities are needed, and who to involve. There are also tools, good examples and direction to other sources.

Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP)

THE PEP  was established in 2002 as a consolidation of the Programme of Joint Action of the UNECE Regional Conference on Transport and Environment (Vienna, 1997) and the Londonprocess of the WHO/Europe Conference on Environment and Health (London, 1999). THE PEP addresses the main challenges of creating sustainable transport patterns and integrating environment and health concerns more tightly with transport policy. Three key priority areas are (a) integrating environmental and health aspects with transport policy, (b) urban transport, and (c) demand-side management and modal shift. More information can be found on
THE PEP have produced a healthy transport toolbox, in the form of a website. This is designed to help policy makers and local professionals to solve transport problems that affect health and the environment. The website includes up to date information, tools and promising practices.

Countryside Council for Wales Green Space Toolkit

The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) believes that accessible natural Green spaces have an important contribution to make to the quality of the environment and to quality of life in urban areas. Such sites are valued by the community, provide important refuges for wildlife in otherwise impoverished areas, and are beneficial to public health and wellbeing. The CCW Green Spaces Toolkit provides a broader, more inclusive approach to ensuring that people in urban areas have the opportunity to experience nature close to their own doorstep.


GreenSpace is a registered charity which works to improve parks and green spaces by raising awareness, involving communities and creating skilled professionals. GreenSpace aims to be the UK’s leading advocate for the economic, social and environmental benefits of better planned, designed and managed parks, gardens and green spaces and for their positive contribution to economic, physical and mental health, social cohesion and biodiversity.

The Kings Fund Health Impacts of Social Planning Decisions Report

This report outlines that there are a number of opportunities for planners to make the built environment a healthier place to live, work, play and travel in. It acknowledges that most interventions will require structural changes and recommends that Planners and Public Health Professionals should share their expertise to best create healthier places.

This report aims to provide evidence to help identify health outcomes which are likely to prove most susceptible to spatial planning interventions. The four issues examined are transportation, buildings and communities, building healthy homes and flooding.

Public Realm Design In the Heads of The Valleys A Good Practice Guide

The Good Practice Guide to Public Realm Design was commissioned by Rhondda Cynon Taff, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen with the Welsh Assembly Government.

The Guide promotes public realm design of a lasting quality, it sets out the basis for establishing a coherent framework for good policy and practice. For more information please contact James Brown at Powell Dobson Urbanists on 029 20799699 or email [email protected].

How the planning system in England can support healthy and sustainable food

This report written by Sustain discusses how spatial planning directly affects the food system from decisions to protect land for farming, to giving planning permission for food retailing and waste management facilities to encouraging urban food production. This report explores how local authorities and communities can use planning policy and decisions to create more local and sustainable food systems. Its focus is on England.

London Assembly Planning and Housing Committee Cultivating the Capital Food growing and the planning system in London 

The Committee reviewed how effectively the planning system supports and encourages agriculture in London, with a focus on land use for commercial food growing; and established what changes could be made to the planning system to foster agriculture and encourage more food to be commercially grown in the capital. The report found that more could be done to open up land within London for food growing and planning policies could support this. They recommend that the efficient use of land within the Greater London area is considered to boost the amount of food grown in London and to support a revival of commercial farming activity.