Healthy Urban Planning Checklist

This resource provides a checklist to be used by a diverse range of groups to ensure health and wellbeing is considered in urban planning and design. The checklist covers four key themes: healthy housing; active travel; healthy environment; and vibrant neighbourhoods. Although published in 2014, it still holds relevance for places today, and could be used in Covid-19 recovery plans and in building resilience to future crises.

Date added 5 October 2021
Last updated 5 October 2021

This checklist, to be used by a diverse range of groups - developers, local authorities, planning officers, public and environmental health professionals, community groups and neighbourhood forums - foregrounds healthy urban planning. The authors explain how (p.2):

Healthy urban planning aims to promote healthy, successful places for people to live and work in. This can be achieved by providing the homes, jobs and services that people need, reducing environmental risks and delivering well designed buildings and urban spaces which will create the conditions for healthy, active lifestyles... Healthy urban planning seeks to highlight and promote the role of planning to influence these social determinants of health.

The checklist brings together existing policy requirements, assessments and standards, and should be used on a local basis to ensure health and wellbeing issues are integrated into local plans, masterplans, and planning application decisions. It covers four key themes, as outlined below, and an example checklist to be used in urban planning and design practice is also included.

Four key aspects of healthy urban planning

Healthy housing - issues around housing design, accessibility, and affordability considered to avoid health-based challenges of overcrowding, lack of lighting, ventilation, temperature, injuries in the home, fears of crime, and social isolation.

Active travel - issues around safety, connectivity, and promotion of walking/cycling considered to avoid health-based challenges of physical inactivity, disease, road and traffic injuries, noise and air pollution.

Healthy environment - issues around construction, air quality, noise, open space, biodiversity, local food, and flood risks considered to avoid health-based challenges of poor air quality, noise disturbances, mental health impacts of lack of greenspace, overheating, and land toxicity. 

Vibrant neighbourhoods - issues around healthcare services, education, social infrastructure, employment, local food shops, and public spaces considered to avoid health-based challenges of health inequalities, mental health implications of unemployment, limited access to healthy foods, physical inactivity, fear of crime, and social isolation.