Health on the High Street Report

The Health on the High Street report, updated by the Royal Society for Public Health in 2018, focuses on transactions - time and money spent - within the High Street, in relation to local population health. Based on a ‘Richter Scale of Health’, it compares both the health scores of a range of high street outlet types, as well as provision in high streets across the UK, ranking them from ‘healthiest’ to ‘unhealthiest’.

Date added 14 July 2020
Last updated 14 July 2020

The Health on the High Street Report, updated by the Royal Society for Public Health in 2018, focuses on transactions - time and money spent - within the High Street, in relation to local population health. The methodology used to make comparisons between the health of different UK high streets is based on what the authors term a ‘Richter Scale of Health’. Specifically, evidence reviews, expert opinion, and a survey were drawn on to rank a range of high street outlet types (e.g. museums, fast food, leisure centres, cafes, pubs, and vape shops etc.) from -2 to +2 based on four key factors, to arrive at an overall ‘health impact’ score:

  1. Encourages healthy choices
  2. Promotes social interaction
  3. Greater access to health care services
  4. Promotes mental wellbeing.

The report also compares provision in high streets across the UK, ranking these from ‘healthiest’ to ‘unhealthiest’, with an in-depth look at London’s high streets. A series of high street case study examples and recommendations are included throughout the report, as to how to create healthier high streets in the future, including:

  • Training for those working in outlets such as betting shops, around how to signpost vulnerable individuals to support services (p. 11).
  • Managing clusters of unhealthy food providers more effectively, particularly in areas around places like schools (p. 15).
  • Local authorities and developers to create more places where people can socialise - or ‘third places’ (p. 16)
  • Steps should be taken to make it easier for sports facilities to open on the high street, with a look at usage classes (p. 21).
  • Encourage ‘meanwhile’ uses of vacant shops, such as pop-up art, shops, and events (p. 25).

The report, therefore, provides insights into how health can better be designed into high streets going forwards, which the Covid-19 pandemic has arguably sensitised us to the importance of even further. As the authors state, “it is time for a fresh look at what the high street means to us and what it might be like in the future” (p.3).

For a related resource, please see here for NHS England’s principles for Putting Health into Place.