There is an emerging body of evidence for the most effective approaches to improve population health through the planning process, and how to mitigate potential negative health impacts of fast-food outlets, betting shops and payday lenders. This includes the work of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) on ‘reuniting planning with public health’. 1  Some actions can only be implemented at national level (e.g. legislative changes), but there are significant powers at local authority level to influence the built environment. Housing, proximity of facilities, green space and modes of transport are key to tackling health inequalities related to the built environment. 2

A recent report by The Royal Society for Public Health describes how our high streets can be made more health promoting and less health harming (see Box 6).

Further examples of good practice under specific themes covered in this section are provided below.

Box 6: ‘Health on the high street’ 3

This report explores how high street outlets and facilities can impact on the health of the public. It notes that a healthy high street can provide the public with healthy choices, support community cohesion and social interaction, and do much to support individual wellbeing. The report includes a range of measures to make high streets more health promoting, including:

  • local authorities to be given greater planning powers to prevent the proliferation of betting shops, payday lenders and fast-food outlets
  • public health criteria to be a condition of licensing for all types of business
  • mandatory food hygiene ratings linked to calorie and nutrition labelling for fast food outlets
  • a limit of 5% of each type of business on a high street in order to avoid oversaturation and provide affordable choice
  • legislation to enable local councils to set their own differential business rates to encourage healthier outlets and discourage those that are detrimental to health.

Further evidence on this topic are framed around the following headings:


  1. The Journal of the Town and Country Planning Association, “Reuniting health with planning,” 2014
  2. M. Grant, C. Bird and P. Marno, “Health inequalities ann determinants in the physical urban environment: Evidence briefing,” University of the West of England, 2012
  3. Royal Society for Public Health, “Health on the high street,” 2015