Health: Homes can be key to health and wellbeing

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Work, finances and family can dictate our living environment but the impact it has on our health and wellbeing can be huge. The importance of getting it right is the focus of Leeds City Council’s Director of Public Health, Dr Ian Cameron’s annual report.

The crucial impact urban planning can have for the health and wellbeing of communities is at the heart of the report published this week. While, Dr Ian Cameron said the city had made good progress taking health into account with planning, he said there was more to do in the coming years.

By 2028, Leeds will have grown by 70,000 new homes, an increase of 20 per cent on the current 345,000 properties, this will raise the city’s population by 150,000 residents from the current 750,000.

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Under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, public health became the responsibility of local authorities and the report states the council’s role is to join local health policy with strategies such as housing, transport and planning. This presents a great opportunity for public health professionals, urban designers, spatial planners and communities to work together to promote better health and reduce health inequalities.

“I want to make sure that these additional homes are developed in ways that improve health and wellbeing - and not make health inequalities worse,” said Dr Cameron. “To achieve this, I want to connect the public health benefits of good urban design and planning to people, place and the planning process. Furthermore, I want to help make sure that individuals, families and local communities have their voice heard and influence felt in the planning process, alongside the voices of the developers and officials – so that these public health benefits come to pass.

“My report includes good examples from across the city, as well as nine principals to base future activity on. I hope planners and citizens find the report and its recommendations valuable as we strive to make Leeds healthier and the best city to live in in the years ahead.”

“The city has made good progress taking health into account with planning with the Leeds Homes Refurbishment Standard, the Neighbourhoods for Living guide and the innovative 2014 ‘Planning Leeds Healthy’ event as good examples of the work the city is already doing to deliver good practice,” he said.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said promoting good health across Leeds needed a long term strategy.

“Understanding the links between wellbeing and housing is key to helping people be happy and healthy,” she said.

THE NINE PRINCIPLES ARE:

Access to health services and other community facilities

Access to healthy food

Social cohesion and community resilience

Physical activity and active travel

Spaces and natural habits

Community safety

Climate change and pollution

Air quality

Healthy design and Lifetime homes

This report and previous annual health reports can be seen at http://observatory.leeds.gov.uk/Leeds_DPH_Report/

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