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Project aims to help planners and health professionals collaborate

Words: Laura Edgar

New guidance launched by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) aims to improve collaboration between public health and planning to ensure lifestyles in the UK are healthier.

Planning Healthy Weight Environments is designed to help planners and public health professionals identify common ground and areas for collaboration by presenting an idea of how a healthy-weight environment could be planned.

The resource is part of the TCPA's Reuniting Health with Planning Project, which builds on a 2007 Foresight Report that found more than half of the UK adult population will be obese by 2020.

According to the TCPA, planners have a vital role to play in combating obesity by shaping healthier places. But, said chief executive Kate Henderson, planning and public health have been working separately for years, despite their shared roots - and, in consequence, “there appears to be a lack of joined-up thinking”.

Henderson explained: “As the nation faces an obesity crisis, we can see that planning has an important role to play in helping to create high quality environments that offer opportunities for communities to make healthy choices and live healthier lifestyles. By reuniting public health with planning, and bringing together built environment and health professionals, we can work collaboratively to identify local health needs and tackle the obesity challenge."

As well as this report, the TCPA has separately published a number of recommendations for government departments, agencies, stakeholder organisations and practitioners about the steps that should be taken to ensure healthy environments that promote healthy living through the planning system.