Health-integrated planning at the local level in England: Impediments and opportunities

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Carmichael, L. ; Barton, H. ; Gray, S. ; Lease, H. (2013)

The project commissioned by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) aimed to examine the degree to which UK, mainly English local planning authorities, incorporate health in their land use plans and development decisions and are supported in this process by good design criteria and indicators promoted by government and other key national stakeholders. The project involved systematic reviews of evidence together with case studies. The range of performance in relation to health identified in the project shows that best practice in England depends not so much on the planning system per se, as on the leadership, commitment and knowledge of politicians and practitioners involved. The barriers to health integration are organizational and professional silos, ignorance, resources, and reactive planning regime. Clear lessons for research and practice are emerging: first, well attested research evidence is quite scarce, for example in relation to sustainability appraisal and health; second, planning agencies need to forge good partnerships with public health, transport, housing and economic development decision- makers, and develop proactive, healthy plans; third design criteria could offer more comprehensive guidance to plan healthy developments and, fourth, the annual monitoring of progress against a wide range of indicators in the English planning system has offered so far an important mechanism for promoting healthier environments.
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