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Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spatial-planning-for-health-evidence-review

(June 2017)


The built and natural environment is a key environmental determinant of health and wellbeing. In this report ‘built and natural environment’ refers to the characteristics (objective and subjective) of a physical environment in which people live, work and play, including: schools, workplaces, homes, communities, parks/recreation areas, green (ie visible grass, trees and other vegetation) and blue spaces (ie visible water). Built environment and health

The linkages between health and the built and natural environment have long been established and the role of the environment in shaping the social, economic and environmental circumstances that determine health is increasingly recognised and understood. An ever-increasing body of research indicates that the environment in which we live is inextricably linked to our health across the life course. For example, the design of our neighbourhoods can influence physical activity levels, travel patterns, social connectivity, mental and physical health and wellbeing outcomes.

However, it is important to recognise that the causal links between built environment and health are often complex, in that they are influenced by numerous, sometimes conflicting, factors. Although it is difficult to quantify, with precision, the impact of the built and natural environment on health, research does seem to consistently report that the majority of our health outcomes are explained by factors other than healthcare (Kuznetsova, 2012; McGuinness, Williams-Russo & Knickman, 2002). To aid understanding of the built and natural environment and health, Barton and Grant (2006), drawing upon the work of Dahlgren and Whitehead (1991), devised the Health Map (Figure 1). The map is focused on the role of neighbourhood and planning, and emphasises the importance of the built and natural environment’s contribution to health and wellbeing outcomes, in line with the socio-ecological approach to health (Orme et al., 2010)

About Public Health England 2
Project overview 5
Introduction 6
How to use this document 9
Neighbourhood design 11
Principles for building healthy neighbourhoods 11
Neighbourhood design: Case study 1 – Fitter for Walking 17
Neighbourhood design: Case study 2 – Walkable neighbourhoods
(IPEN Adult Study) 19
Housing 23
Housing: Case study 1 – CHARISMA: Housing improvements
and childhood asthma 28
Food environment 30
Principles for healthier food environments 30
Food Environment: Case study 1 – Gardens for Life 35
Natural and sustainable environments 38
Principles for natural and sustainable environments 38
Natural and Sustainable Environments: Case study 1 –
Would you be happier living in a greener urban area? 46
Natural and Sustainable Environments: Case study 2 –
Mortality from Urban Heat Island Effect during West Midlands heatwave 48
Transport 52
Principles for healthy transport 52
Transport: Case study 1 – Connect2 58
Transport: Case study 2 – Cambridgeshire Guided Busway 60
Discussion 63
Conclusions 67
Acknowledgements 69


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