Published: 7 February 2022
Collaboration between policy makers and practitioners in spatial planning with colleagues in health is vital in order to maximise health and well-being opportunities in the recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Public Health Wales.
The report is being published ahead of an event ‘Creating healthy places and spaces: a collaborative approach’ which looks at how to join up planning and health and maximise recovery from COVID-19. The event will be providing some practical ways of doing this and taking forward recommendations from this report.
It shows that early involvement and joined up working across multiple disciplines can help to address the interconnected challenges that have emerged and deepened since the pandemic, and that this approach should be implemented on an all-Wales basis.
Liz Green, Consultant in Public Health, Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales said: “While spatial planning policies in many areas of Wales embrace the concept of collaboration and partnership working between various disciplines, this approach needs to be embedded across all policies and plans that impact on the built and natural environment, in order to maximise the health and wellbeing of the population and reduce inequalities.
“It’s vital that considering, and building in, health and wellbeing is integral to developments, and not seen as an ‘optional extra’ by ensuring that infrastructure and services are put in place from the outset.
“The health sector has an increasingly important role in spatial planning – local public health teams, public health and healthcare service providers need to be involved from as early a stage as possible.”
The report reiterates that public engagement in the development of plans from the early stages is essential and that planners and local authorities have a responsibility to continue to encourage the engagement and involvement in planning decisions. It suggests that the Coronavirus pandemic has unearthed more opportunities for the public and communities to engage with authorities, particularly using digital technology.
In addition, it states that the pandemic has provided an opportunity for planners to think differently about places – by exploring environmental and economic challenges and improving the impact that they have on health, wellbeing and equality. The report states that good quality housing should be developed within vibrant, cohesive places, and that minimum standards for space should be set to accommodate future needs, for example such as working from home.
‘Maximising health and well-being opportunities for spatial planning in COVID-19 pandemic recovery’ is part of a series of reports that that will help inform and enable healthier future environments.