This section describes the health and wellbeing impacts of the buildings and public spaces where we live, work, shop, relax and socialise. It includes consideration of the influence of parks and green spaces, as well as the composition of our high streets (with a focus on hot food takeaways, betting shops payday lenders, night-tem venues and cultural facilities), in driving health and wellbeing.

Local government planning functions are an important lever in shaping the built environment of a local area and have a major influence on a population’s health – through their impact on the quality of open spaces, housing developments, transport modes, community facilities and the composition of our high streets and town centres.   (See the Housing and homelessness, Transport and travel and the Health and the environment sections of this JSNA chapter). As such, this section is relevant to a number of other topics covered by this JSNA chapter, ‘Society and Environment’.

Planning ensures that the right development happens in the right place at the right time, benefitting communities and the economy. It plays a critical role in identifying what development is needed and where, what areas need to be protected or enhanced, and assessing whether proposed development is suitable. 1

The planning system in England and Wales is composed of different levels. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sits at the top, and sets out policies that local planning authorities are required to take into account in formulating local plans and making planning decisions. 2   The London Plan is the development plan for all of London. It sits under the NPPF but above borough local plans, and sets the policy context for the development of local plans. The Local Plan is the primary planning document for setting out the vision for local authorities, outlining policies on land use and development, and for assessing planning applications.

The NPPF directs local planning authorities to work with public health leads to understand and take account of the health status and needs of the local population, including expected future changes and any information about relevant barriers to improving health and wellbeing. This section focuses on how the working of the local planning system can affect the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors to Hackney and the City.

Licensing is a related, and highly relevant, influence on the ‘healthiness’ of our places and spaces. Licensing covers the sale of alcohol, as well as the provision of various forms of entertainment and late night refreshment, under the terms of the Licensing Act 2003. The focus of the 2003 Act is the promotion of the four statutory objectives which must be addressed when any licensing functions are undertaken by local authorities: the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance, and the protection of children from harm.  Under the Act, a number of public bodies (known as responsible authorities) must be fully notified of applications and are entitled to make representations to the licensing authority.

Directors of Public Health are included as responsible authorities under the Licensing Act 2003. 3

Box 1: Definitions used in this section

Area Action Plan (AAP) – A comprehensive spatial strategy for coordinated development and design that reflects local aspirations for the future of a specific area. There are currently four AAPs in Hackney, covering Dalston, Hackney Central, Hackney Wick and Manor House.  Further plans are in the pipeline for the Stamford Hill and Shoreditch AAPs.

Betting shops – Premises where the primary activity is betting services (also known as ‘bookmakers’).

Core strategy – Is the primary strategic document in the local development framework (see below), setting out the long-term vision for future development in a local area.

Cultural facilities – This includes libraries, museums and art galleries, theatres and cinemas.

Development management local plan (DMLP) – Detailed planning policies which are used (together with the London Plan, the core strategy and other supplementary planning documents) to assess planning applications.

Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) – A type of electronic gaming machine on which players may bet on the outcome of various simulated games and events (such as roulette, blackjack, bingo, and horse races), the odds offered being fixed from game to game.

Green space (or open space) – This includes public parks, amenity green space, outdoor sports facilities/playing fields, allotments/community gardens/urban farms, cemeteries and churchyards, natural or semi-natural urban green spaces, civic spaces/pedestrianised areas.

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) – A combination of procedures, methods and tools by which a policy, programme or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the health of a population.

Local development framework (LDF) – A suite of planning documents which outline the borough’s planning policies – including the core strategy, the DMLP and any supplementary planning guidance.

London Plan – The statutory spatial development strategy for the Greater London area, published by the Greater London Authority.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – This sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied.

Night-time economy – Refers to alcohol and non-alcohol related leisure activities and entertainment taking place in the evening and at night – includes restaurants, cafés, cinemas, bingo halls, takeaways, retail, theatres and other cultural venues, pubs, bars and nightclubs.

Payday lenders – Payday loan shops provide high-interest, short-term loans for people needing money to tide them over for short periods.

Supplementary planning guidance – Non-statutory planning documents developed to give further guidance on particular areas of policy.



  1. Department for Communities and Local Government, “Plain English guide to the Planning System,” 2015.
  2. Communities and Local Government, “National Planning Policy Framework,” 2012
  3. Public Health England, and Local Government Association, “Public health and the Licensing Act 2003 – guidance note on effective participation by public health teams,” 2014