The quality and design of our high streets, buildings and open spaces has a major impact on our health and wellbeing

The links between planning and health are explicitly expressed throughout the current National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). 3  In particular, Section 8 ‘Promoting healthy communities’ highlights that the planning system has an important role in facilitating social interaction and creating healthy, inclusive communities (see Box 2 for examples).

Making high streets more attractive places to go to not only improves economic viability, but also promotes health. Particular types of retail can have major impacts on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.

Box 2: Examples of how planning impacts on health 4

There are many examples of how planning impacts on health and wellbeing:

  • regeneration can contribute to a rich community life, by providing opportunities for social interaction (such as common activities and meeting places) – of particular importance for the most vulnerable groups
  • insufficient attention to maintaining and creating community cohesion in urban renewal projects can lead to the destruction of social networks
  • well-designed parks and public spaces reduce fear of crime and promote healthy lifestyles
  • a lack of supply of affordable quality housing contributes to homelessness and overcrowding, which affects health (for further information, see the ‘Housing and homelessness’ section of this JSNA chapter).


  1. Communities and Local Government, “National Planning Policy Framework,” 2012
  3. Communities and Local Government, “National Planning Policy Framework,” 2012