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Have your say on planning for a healthier future in south Worcestershire

New guidelines on how housing and other developments can be designed to encourage healthier lifestyles have been released for south Worcestershire – and residents and developers are being urged to have their say on them.

The guidelines cover issues like encouraging walking and cycling, ensuring land is available to grow food and encouraging the use of efficient and sustainable energy.

Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon councils have published the proposed guidelines in a document called “Planning for Health”, and residents and other interested parties can have their say by going to www.swdevelopmentplan.org. The consultation runs to January 27.

The final guidelines will be published in a Supplementary Planning Document and it is hoped they will be used by developers to design housing and other schemes that help people to live healthier lifestyles.

The guidelines build on national policies that set out links between planning and health, and aim to provide more detail on how policies in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) should be applied by developers when they seek planning permission.

They have been prepared with significant input from Worcestershire County Council, which has local responsibility for health and wellbeing.

Councillor Geoff Williams, who chairs the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: “Having a healthy and active lifestyle is easier if you live in an environment where there is fresh air, green space, and access to shopping and other facilities you need without always having to use a car. These guidelines are aimed at ensuring more of our residents can benefit from that sort of lifestyle.”

The draft guidelines cover a range of subjects, including:

  • The importance of good design for housing and commercial developments that  encourages walking and cycling
  • Encouraging healthier diets by making space available to enable communities to grow food locally and discouraging a build-up of hot food takeaways, especially near schools
  • Encouraging energy efficiency and the use of sustainable energy to help reduce fuel poverty
  • Encouraging healthy work spaces which are well ventilated and offer access to green space and other recreational opportunities, with the aim of improving physical and mental health
  • Encouraging development that can be adapted to changing needs throughout residents’ lives, allowing people to continue to live in their homes
  • Providing open spaces and seating to encourage social interaction
  • Ensuring services and facilities are accessible to people without a car.

It is also proposed that planning applications for larger developments of 25 homes or more should include a Health Impact Assessment. This would ensure health considerations have been taken into consideration and the assessment would be taken into account when a decision was made on the planning application.

Anyone who wants to give their views on the provisional guidelines can complete the consultation at www.swdevelopmentplan.org. Printed copies of the documents are also available at libraries and customer contact centres in south Worcestershire.

The consultation runs until January 27 2017.

The three south Worcestershire councils expect to adopt the final Planning for Health Supplementary Planning Document in May 2017.