Proposal for councils to impose ‘health test’ on new developments

Councils should impose a new ‘health test’ on major developments to ensure they promote healthier living in the area, a researcher has proposed.

Dr Caglar Koksal of the University of Manchester has argued that developments aimed at improving wellbeing and encouraging healthier lifestyles should be granted accelerated planning permission by councils, given they pass a ‘health test’.

The new test would vary by areas and include any acute local health issues such as respiratory diseases or obesity, he said.

Dr Koksal also called on councils to set higher health-related standards before giving permission for big developments.

aerial photography of rural

He said: ‘When the demand for housing remains exceptionally high, developers have very little incentive to promote health with their schemes. The primary concern of most house builders is to deliver profits for their investors. However, local authorities can motivate and inspire developers to work together and create healthier places.

‘For example, local authorities can ask all major developments to demonstrate a health net gain with their development, provided that local evidence substantiates such a requirement.

‘If a development demonstrates health net gain, for example, the local authority can grant an accelerated planning permission, which would lead to huge cost savings and contribute positively to the viability of the proposal.’

The proposal has been made in a briefing for the Social Market Foundation, who said the idea would help deliver some of the kay goals of the Levelling Up agenda.

James Kirkup, director of the SMF, said: ‘This research should be studied closely by policymakers at national and local level for evidence and insight into how to deliver healthier places and better development.’

In related news, new guidance from the Mayor of London will encourage landlords to help leaseholders get building safety forms and understand building safety risks.

Photo by Breno Assis


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2 years ago

Can the older, already established housing areas also be asked to test their local air quality and do a “health check”? Is it time for all local councils to do far more air quality monitoring? And to inform the public, daily, of the results and forecasts? The “ambient air” numbers and bands we see on the Defra website are very general and cover large areas. I think we need more very local monitoring, otherwise smaller (but important) hot-spots are missed. They are being “averaged-out”, I fear.

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