Report shines light on the barriers to healthy placemaking

Design Council worked with Social ChangeUK to survey over 600 built environment practitioners across the UK to understand their views and experiences across multiple areas on healthy placemaking.

The survey found that many practitioners are not using data and insight to design and create healthy places. Although some practitioners were aware of the evidence base for creating healthy places, it found that only 27% of practitioners are able to access and use local data to identify local priorities when working on placemaking projects.

It also found that greater understanding is needed about the effect of the built environment on health.

The research found that the requirements and expectations of national and local politicians to deliver on other priorities (such as housing supply) would often act as a barrier in enabling practitioners to produce health placemaking intervention, while survey respondents felt that the public are not always aware of the effect of the built environment on health.

Highways, and guidance on highways, also make it difficult to create healthy places, the report found, with built environment practitioners reporting that it was often difficult to design and develop areas that support health and wellbeing as a result of restrictions placed by highways guidance and highways authorities.

Some practitioners also discussed their experience of not having the engagement and support from all levels of staff within their own or other organisations which they said can be a significant barrier to delivering healthy placemaking, with some built environment practitioners -mainly those working at junior or lower management levels can be perceived as risk adverse.

Writing in the report, Sarah Weir of Design Council said: ‘This report is focused on healthy placemaking. It examines the barriers identified by people building and designing our communities to creating places where people are healthier and happier.

‘It comes at a time when many are questioning the impact of a poor environment on the health and wellbeing of people. There are already numerous initiatives and research on the importance of the built environment on our health.

‘We know that where we live contributes significantly to this, impacting either negatively or positively on issues such as levels of preventable disease and early death in a local area. Yet, despite the evidence, lasting change seems difficult to achieve. National policy must help drive this change.

‘And local decision-makers, industry and national charities such as Design Council must collectively use our influence to do whatever is possible to implement sustainable, lasting change.’

Read the full report here

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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