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Health on the High Street

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By DAC Beachcroft


Published 19 January 2021


The report, “Health on the High Street” resulted from a round table event hosted by the Social Market Foundation and supported by DAC Beachcroft. We are grateful to attendees from local and central government, the planning community and commercial developers who shared their insights.

The debate considered the future of our urban centres, post COVID, specifically how regeneration can and should focus on creating healthier cities and embedding healthy living. The full report can be accessed here.

Christopher Stanwell, Head of Planning at DACB commented, "The suggestions made give a purposeful meaning to the variety of on-going discussions about the re-creation of our town and city centres. Zero carbon is integral to the Government’s COVID recovery plans, but the considerations in “Health on the High Street” go beyond cleaner, to greener and wider inclusion. Green, clean and more inclusive add to the filter for decision making and give strategic plans a greater sense of direction. Pre COVID many of our urban centres had become much more attractive for young adults. Post COVID inclusion is likely to mean more housing for a greater range of ages; a welcome return to centres that provide something for all.“

In summary: Possibilities
  • Investment in infrastructure to encourage cycling and walking;
  • Creation of 20 minute neighbourhoods;
  • Introducing new parks and green space;
  • Creating health hubs; and
  • Bringing healthy housing, including later life living accommodation, into the urban centre.
In summary: Recommendations
  • The adoption of “Health in all policies” in spatial planning, embedding principles of health homes and healthy urban design;
  • Town centres first – locate health and other public services in urban centres first, where appropriate;
  • Clearer government guidance on how the Infrastructure Levy can and should be used in support of improved health;
  • New revenue raising powers for local authorities to support the on-going costs associated with parks and other health enhancing infrastructure; and
  • Increased attention paid to the “curation” of urban centres by local authorities, with the support of the private sector.