The NPPF and health: Fitter, happier, more productive?

Health and well-being in our towns and cities and the effects of air pollution have been ascending the political and planning agendas in recent years.

These matters continue to feature in the proposed revisions to the NPPF and have been expanded to include the health and well-being impacts of estate regeneration and the promotion of public safety, security and defence.

Section 8 of the revised NPPF specifically deals with promoting healthy and safe communities. However, health is not just confined to a single section of the Framework. Rather it is a binding thread running through a number of topics including:

  • Planning community and education infrastructure
  • Ensuring adequate open space
  • Promoting sustainable transport
  • Addressing poor air quality
  • Balancing the effective use of land with health living conditions
  • Mitigating the effect of high levels of pollution and ground contamination

Here we profile which aspects of the Framework have been retained, which have been omitted and what has been added in relation to promoting healthy and safe communities.

Retained elements

The important role that planning can play in meeting community needs and enabling provision of social, recreational and cultural facilities has been retained.  

Paragraph 93 clarifies the need to ensure an “integrated approach” to considering the location of housing, economic uses, community facilities and services. This is a key principle of well planned and healthy places.

It is good to see that education provision continues to be given importance in the revised Framework.  Paragraph 95 states that local planning authorities should give “great weight” to the need to create, expand or alter schools.

In our experience, major new developments can provide a solution for education issues and lead to investment in a choice of school places. In this context, the retention of paragraph 95 is helpful in ensuring proper consideration of the education issues and solutions that are associated with development.

We are also pleased to see the retention of a requirement for local planning authorities to resolve key planning issues pertaining to education before applications are submitted, and the associated requirement to work with school promotors and delivery partners in doing so.


Garden City principles have been removed from the proposed revisions to the Framework.

Dispensing with Garden City principles could perhaps signal that the Government recognises that healthy and safe communities can take many shapes and forms. There is not a one size fits all approach.

Some commentators have already claimed that this may lead to ambiguity in place making and healthy planning principles. We are keeping a watching brief on this point and look to the forthcoming PPG revisions and Spring Statement for further details of new garden towns and villages.


Understanding the impacts of estate regeneration is a new feature of the Framework included under the banner of promoting healthy and safe communities (paragraph 94). Local planning authorities are encouraged to use their “planning powers to help deliver estate regeneration to a high standard”. It remains to be seen whether forthcoming revisions to the PPG will define what constitutes a “high standard”.

A new paragraph 96 states that planning policies and decisions should promote public safety and take into account wider security and defence requirements. This has implications for the layout and design of developments where large numbers of people are expected to congregate (for example cinemas, shopping centres etc.).

Emphasis is placed on factoring in up-to-date information on potential threats and implications as well as designing in proportionate measures to reduce vulnerability and to ensure public safety.  

Summing up

Planning in England emerged as a response to public health concerns about the urban environment.  These concerns are still relevant today, and it is apparent that health and well-being are an enduring feature of the NPPF.

It is encouraging to see health and well-being embedded in multiple parts of the revised Framework – an acknowledgement that we need a holistic approach to creating healthy and safe communities.

For further information about any issues raised in this article please contact Richard Laming, Senior Director or Amber Morley, Lead Consultant (Health Impact Assessment).