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Adopted 17 July 2023

Health and Wellbeing Supplementary Planning Document


Executive summary

The council recognises that health and wellbeing are key issues at both national and local level. Health is not simply about access to medical facilities; it is also about lifestyle and environment. The built environment can impact on the factors that are known to influence a person’s health status and lifestyle, including economic, social and environmental conditions.

The design of the built environment can have a significant impact on both physical and mental wellbeing. Well-designed built environment can help to reduce health inequalities in Wyre Forest; while poor environmental quality, housing conditions or pollution can exacerbate them.

Planning can have a positive influence on health in a number of ways:

Planning can:

  • help address the issue by ensuring that public open space, recreational facilities and sports pitches are accessible to encourage both children and adults to be active and use outside space.
  • encourage the inclusion of active travel routes in developments
  • promote the development of sustainable and healthy housing that provides secure and sustainable accommodation for people at different stages of their lives
  • promote good quality work environments that encourage a productive and healthy workforce
  • help to restrict the location and concentration of hot food takeaways.
  • help facilitate access to affordable, nutritious food and maintain, enhance or develop opportunities for local food production such as allotments and community orchards or other community projects
  • help mitigate the effects of climate change through sensitive and sustainable development

This Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) therefore aspires to:

  • promote opportunities for healthier lifestyles, encourage healthier choices and reduce the demand on the NHS, health professionals, councils and individuals across the district;
  • to inform communities and provide guidance to aid with the preparation of Neighbourhood Plans
  • Inform pre-application advice of any potential health-related issues
  • Be a material consideration to be taken into account in determining applications, where relevant; and
  • to provide information and guidance that can be used to support an efficient Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Screening and positive Health Impact Assessment.


Status and Purpose

The Wyre Forest District’s Health and Wellbeing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) provides more detailed advice on the health and wellbeing related policies contained in the Wyre Forest Local Plan. It has been prepared in partnership with Worcestershire County Council’s Strategic Planning Team and the Public Health Team.  

The SPD focuses on how matters of health and wellbeing should be positively addressed through the development planning process in the district. It sets out how the applicant/developer will be expected to demonstrate their proposals reflect the principles set out in the SPD, through the use of Health Impact Assessment Screening or a full Health Impact Assessment. The document is aimed at local authority planning officers, applicants, developers, relevant organisations, and the wider community involved with delivering healthier developments.

Planning Policy context

Section 8 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) revised in 2021, sets out the Government’s planning policies, including a specific requirement to promote healthy communities and to draw on evidence of health and wellbeing need. The NPPF is supported by National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) which further outlines the importance of health and wellbeing in planning.

The SPD provides detailed guidance on the two key policies in the Wyre Forest District Local Plan, SP.16 Health and Wellbeing and DM.18 Hot Food Takeaways.

Health context

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 made public health one of local government functions. This provided an opportunity for local authorities to address the links between planning and health.

The Worcestershire Health and Wellbeing Board Strategy 2022-32 sets the context for other health and wellbeing plans and for commissioning of NHS, public health, social care and related children’s services. The strategy is a basis for the public to hold local organisations to account for achieving its outcomes.

This SPD aims to contribute to the strategy’s key priority, which is:

  • Mental health and wellbeing throughout life

Supported by ensuring:

  • Healthy living at all ages
  • Quality local jobs and opportunities
  • Safe, thriving and healthy homes, communities and places

The strategy and this SPD are based on the findings of a Worcestershire Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA). The JSNA is a continuous process which provides information on health and well-being in order to inform decision making.  It is used to determine what actions local authorities, the NHS and other partners need to take to meet people's health and social care needs and to address the wider determinants that impact on their health and well-being. Undertaking the JSNA is a duty under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Key aims

The SPD aspires to:

  • promote opportunities for healthier lifestyles, encourage healthier choices and reduce the demand on the NHS, health professionals, councils and individuals across the district;
  • to inform communities and provide guidance to aid with the preparation of Neighbourhood Plans
  • Inform pre-application advice of any potential health-related issues
  • Be a material consideration to be taken into account in determining applications, where relevant; and
  • to provide information and guidance that can be used to support an efficient HIA Screening and positive HIA;

As the emphasis of the report is to guide applicants through the Health Impact Assessment, the structure of the report reflects this. The next chapter provides detail on what a Health Impact Assessment is, when it is required and the process that will be followed by Wyre Forest District Council when dealing with applications. The following sections then provide guidance about the principles stated in the HIA template.

Health Impact Assessments

A Health Impact Assessment is a tool to help deliver the Local Plan policies and the guidance outlined in this SPD and ensure that the effects of development on both health and health inequalities are considered and addressed during the planning process. It tends to draw on existing knowledge and information and does not generally require specific new research on health impacts.

An HIA should aim to enhance the positive aspects of a proposal through assessment, while avoiding or minimising any negative impacts, with particular emphasis on disadvantaged sections of communities that might be affected.

What applications will need a Health Impact Assessment?

Not all proposals will necessitate HIA; the HIA screening process will determine whether a HIA is needed for the particular scheme

A HIA screening will need to be undertaken for the development types specified  below (as per policy SP.16 Health and Wellbeing) to determine whether a full assessment should be completed.

  • Restaurants and cafés
  • Drinking establishments
  • Hot food takeaways (see policy DM.18 Hot Food Takeaways)
  • Residential Institutions
  • Non-residential institutions
  • Leisure facilities
  • Betting shops and pay-day loan shops

Depending on the outcomes, a full HIA may be required. In addition, the following will require a full HIA;

  • Residential and mixed-use major development sites
  • Employment sites of 5 ha or more
  • Retail development of 500 square metres or more.

The Full HIA Process

The HIA, where relevant, will assess whether the proposal meets the health and wellbeing policies in Wyre Forest District Council’s adopted Local Plan 2016 to 2036, where relevant. In completing an HIA, the applicant should follow template in appendix 1, which contains both the screening and full HIA templates. This SPD also provides guidance and design principles, which have been drawn from policies contained in the 2016-2036 Local Plan.

The potential for significant impacts from a scheme, as identified thorough an HIA, will vary according to the size and scale of the proposal. In addition to an HIA, the Local Planning Authority may therefore request a targeted stakeholder consultation to be undertaken for those schemes where significant health impacts are identified. 

As with HIA screening, HIAs themselves will be assessed by the planning authority in consultation with the WCC Public Health Team. The planning authority will provide feedback and recommendations on HIAs, as appropriate. Findings of the final HIA should be reflected in the proposals. There are five stages to the HIA process, which are described below.


The screening stage involves considering whether to carry out an HIA. Not all planning proposals will require an HIA, as this will depend on the type, scale and location of the development or proposal. An HIA screening template is provided in Appendix 1.


  1. Identify the geographical extent of the proposal
  2. Consider who the potential users of the site/development or area will be
  3. Identify and consult relevant stakeholders and experts (if requested by the Local Planning Authority (LPA))


The assessment stage of an HIA includes analysing information and prioritising potential health impacts. This can take the following stepped approach:

  1. Use the HIA Template in Appendix1 and Guidance Boxes to guide the assessment.
  2. Consider the effects of the proposal on different population groups
  3. Assess the type and level of impact of the proposal.
  4. Consider how this is reflected in the masterplan/scheme/layout plans.

Review of the proposal

At this stage any conclusions and suggestions from the HIA to remove or mitigate adverse health impacts and to enhance positive effects of the proposal should be considered by the applicant. This may result in changes to the original plans to reflect these recommendations.

Health Impact Assessment submission

Submit the completed HIA to the Local Planning Authority. HIAs will be assessed by the planning authority in consultation with Worcestershire County Council's Directorate of Public Health. The planning authority will provide feedback and recommendations on HIAs


Following submission of the HIA and implementation of its proposals, the extent to which the HIA has influenced the decision making process will be evaluated by the Local Planning Authority.

Health And Wellbeing Principles

Design and Public Realm

The design of the built environment can have a significant impact on physical and mental health and how people perceive their environments.  There is need to ‘design in health’ into development to create healthy environments which in turns will have a positive impact on the population.

Planning will look to support the design of environments that promote and encourage physical exercise and psychological wellbeing and improve cognitive functioning. This can include the overall quality of public spaces, from street layouts and connectivity, green infrastructure/landscaping, and traffic calming measures, to a person's interaction with the surrounding cultural and historic environment. The quality of the public realm is vitally important for both mental and physical health.

When proposing new public spaces, it is important to consider all potential users and how they might use the space with the aim in mind of building healthier places and environments that support independence at all stages of life. In particularly the needs of the elderly and vulnerable people should be considered through design.

The table below, outlines the principles taken from policy SP.16, Health and Wellbeing in Wyre Forest District Council’s adopted local plan, that will need to be addressed in the HIA.

Health and Wellbeing Principles: Urban Form – Design and the Public Realm
Health Impact Assessment template reference (see appendix 1) Where relevant, proposals must comply with policy by:
1.1 Ensuring public spaces are designed to enable formal and informal physical activity, recreation, and play, and should consider all members of the public including older people and those living with dementia or disabilities.
1.2 Providing safe and attractive public realm and green infrastructure including green spaces, footpaths, bridleways, and cycle routes that encourage active travel opportunities.
1.3 Providing easily navigable routes which cater for the needs of all age groups, in particular the elderly, through the provision of benches, shading and simple, clear signage.
1.4 Providing innovative public realm design solutions which prioritise people over motor traffic, allowing for convenient, safe and attractive routes, in particular for walking and cycling.
1.5 Providing opportunities for community cohesion through the creation of permeable environments that will encourage people to get outdoors for recreation, social interaction, and moving around by non-vehicular means through active travel measures.
1.6 Proposals for new community facilities or the enhancement of existing facilities which offer an increased overall provision will be supported:
  • where they are demonstrated to meet an identified local need 
  • in accessible locations that serve a wide community 
where they promote the opportunities to travel by sustainable modes.
1.7 The design of the public realm should maximise opportunities for pedestrian and cycle linkages to the surrounding area and local services and provide links to existing public rights of way (PROW). 

Case Study: Kidderminster Town Hall Square (Exchange Street)

Kidderminster Town has benefitted from a £2 million public realm project which was completed during 2016. This has provided a new look public realm with performance space, bespoke street furniture and a new shared space outside the historic town hall.

Several challenges were addressed in the design including traffic conflicts between bus operators, taxis and private vehicles. The needs and movements of pedestrians and cyclists were prioritised. Prior to this there was an excessive range of furniture and paving that was inconsistent in its specification and positioning in the town centre. It was described as an outdated and tired public realm. The new design was simple and included minimal clutter improving the quality and quantity of space available to pedestrians.

Active travel

Car travel had been replacing short journeys for decades as it can be seen as more convenient. In addition, people now tend to travel longer distances.  This has been a trend for 40 years and is connected to a decline in physical activity[Note 1].

This decline is physical activity is a factor in health outcomes for Wyre Forest residents.  Life expectancy is 7.4 years lower for men and 4.7 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of Wyre Forest than in the least deprived areas (2018-2020 data, Source: Fingertips).

Building walking or cycling into daily routines are the most effective ways to increase physical activity and are a sustainable form of travel.

The table below, outlines the principles that will need to be addressed in the HIA.

Health and Wellbeing Principles: Active Travel
Health Impact Assessment template reference Where relevant, proposals must comply with policy by:
2.1 Recognising that active travel is an achievable way to improve health and encourage daily physical activity.
2.2 Utilising planning guidance to make active travel an attractive and viable option and therefore reduce dependency on car travel.
2.3 Ensuring connectivity between new development and more established active travel routes including cycle routes and canal towpaths.
2.4 Providing more opportunities for active travel to take place by ensuring that active travel enables access to wider transport hubs prioritising connectivity to train and bus stations.
2.5 Ensuring that new development values the significance of active travel and makes it an appealing option, for example by offering secure bike storage and ensuring routes are well maintained and lit.


Case Study: Active Travel

Wyre Forest District has many opportunities for active travel due to its river and canal network including the River Severn, River Stour and Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal that connects the District’s towns of Kidderminster, Bewdley and Stourport-on-Severn.

An example of active travel in Wyre Forest, is the canal towpath between Wolverley, Kidderminster and Stourport Town Centre. The tow path provides pedestrian and bicycle friendly travel routes between leisure and employment, urban and rural areas. It also brings tourism to the towns via the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal, which benefits the local economy.

Green and blue infrastructure 

Green and blue infrastructure (GI) can be defined as the planned and managed network of green spaces and natural elements that intersperse and connect our cities, towns and villages. GI comprises of many different elements including biodiversity, the landscape, the historic environment, the water environment and publicly accessible green spaces and informal recreation sites (Worcestershire County Council, Worcestershire Green Infrastructure Strategy 2013-18.)

GI can increase community resilience to a range of climate-related impacts, including air pollution, noise and the impacts of extreme heat and extreme rainfall events. Access to well-designed green spaces can increase levels of physical activity which in turn improves people’ physical and psychological health (Forest Research (2010) Benefits of green infrastructure.)

GI within new developments will need to be publicly accessible and capable of being managed long term. Therefore, Wyre Forest District Council will not accept private residential plots including domestic gardens or private shared permeable driveways when calculating the total GI provision within new developments.


Worcestershire Green Infrastructure Framework 3: Access and Recreation document states that the distribution of informal accessible recreational assets in the county is not uniform. Spatial analysis of sites across the county highlights clusters of larger sites in the north of the county in Wyre Forest District, with several smaller community sites such as Blakedown and Wribbenhall. Wyre Forest District Council manages a range of formal parks and green spaces within Stourport, Bewdley and Kidderminster and several large and small nature reserves within the urban areas. The Public Rights of Way network in the district is relatively dense and is well-used for commuting and leisure, with many circular routes in and around the Wyre Forest itself (Worcestershire Green Infrastructure Framework (2020) Worcestershire Green Infrastructure Framework 3: Access and Recreation).

Health and Wellbeing Principles: Green and blue Infrastructure and spaces principles
Health Impact Assessment template reference Where relevant, proposals must comply with policy by:
3.1 Retaining, enhancing and providing Green Infrastructure networks and assets in terms of their quality and quantity as
per SP.28 - Strategic Green Infrastructure
3.2 Providing multifunctional green spaces which perform environmental roles whilst serve the residents to support their physical and mental health.
3.3 Ensuring that green spaces are accessible and serve all groups of the population.
3.4 Ensuring that the quality of the green spaces is maintained in perpetuity.
3.5 Providing quality open space, sports pitches and outdoor community uses in housing development.

New development should consider and deliver green infrastructure on their site in line with Policy SP.28 - Strategic Green Infrastructure.

In considering green infrastructure in development, multifunctionality should be at the forefront of the considerations. As well as encouraging physical activity and thereby reducing obesity, access to green space, sports and other recreational facilities promotes relaxation and reduction in stress and can also bring about social interaction within communities.

Access to high-quality and well-maintained green space promotes physical activity, positive mental wellbeing and healthy childhood development. Children with access to safe green spaces are more likely to be physically active and less likely to be overweight. Outdoor play encourages healthy brain development and promotion of wellbeing through adulthood. Natural play areas can allow for adventurous play helping them to develop useful skills through play. New play areas should also consider play facilities for girls (as promoted by Make Space for Girls) and play provision for people with disabilities and for elderly people.

The Fields in Trust recommends a hierarchical approach to planning for play based on: Local Areas for Play (LAPs); Local Equipped Areas for Play (LEAP); and Neighbourhood Equipped Areas for Play (NEAP). The recommendations are for provision related to age, distance and diversity of opportunity. The NPFA also referred to the need for local facilities on the basis of accessibility. It recommends a 20-minute travelling time to specialist facilities such as an artificial turf pitch or athletics track is acceptable, and that a 10-15 minute journey to local sports facilities is reasonable. In this context the NPFA recommends that playing fields (or sports and recreation grounds or other local outdoor facilities) should be within three-quarters of a mile (1.2km) of where people live (

In terms of children’s play, the distances considered reasonable to travel from home to public open space are set out below:

  • Local Area for Play (LAP) - within 100m.
  • Local Equipped Area for Play (LEAP) - within 400m.
  • Neighbourhood Equipped Area for Play (NEAP) - within 1km.

Case Study: Springfield Park, Kidderminster

Springfield Park is a large park of 16.95 hectares situated in the Broadwaters area of Kidderminster. The site is adjacent to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and has good links from many parts of Kidderminster. The park has attractive walking and cycling routes. A health walk takes place regularly from one of the local GP practices and utilises the park as part of the route. The park also has a marked and measured trail, an ornamental pool, wooden sculptures and a woodland.

Age/Dementia Friendly Environments

People are living longer, and life expectancy is increasing but the numbers of years spent in poorer health is increasing. Wyre Forest District, like many areas in the UK has seen an increase in the ageing population. The physical and social changes associated with ageing need to be compensated for, to provide supportive and enabling living environments. Reduced mobility, physical disability, and chronic diseases, and psycho-emotional concerns such as stress and isolation are changes that can impact on the ageing population. The prevalence of dementia also increases significantly with age. Wyre Forest District Council has a higher proportion of older people than the national average, inevitably meaning that the sheer numbers of dementia cases will be higher.

To address the above issues, the following principles need to be addressed in an HIA:

Health and Wellbeing Principles: Age/Dementia Friendly Environment Principles
Health Impact Assessment template reference Where relevant, proposals must comply with policy by:
4.1 Incorporating dementia-friendly design into all proposals to help those affected residents now and in the future, to continue their everyday lives. This includes buildings that incorporate flexible and adaptable designs and address access to public open space.
4.2 Providing safe and walkable environments in parks, open spaces and community areas with shading, benches, and other facilities. These areas/routes should be clearly signposted with appropriate materials, and consideration should be given to the design of surfaces and street furniture.
4.3 Providing crossing facilities appropriately located (e.g., next to a bus stop) to minimise travel distances for the elderly, as well as public transport links with bus stops which are within walking distance of homes.
4.4 Providing a range of home types which cater for the needs of the elderly to allow an element of choice to older people to stay within the community as long as possible and provide opportunities to downsize.
4.5 Providing adaptable homes which cater for needs at every stage of people’s life (for example build to Lifetime Homes standard).

Delivering housing for elderly including bungalows, supported living and care homes in line with SP.9 - Housing Density an Mix.

The district council will require all major housing development proposals to contribute towards providing 20% of the total housing requirement to meet the higher access standards of Part M Building Regulations (Access to and use of buildings), (Category 2 M4(2), accessible and adaptable dwelling) of the Building Regulations (2010); and a further 1% of the overall number of housing units to meet Category 3 M4(3) of the Building Regulations (2010), wheelchair user dwellings standards in properties where the council has nomination rights.

Well-designed development should include accessible public transport links, such as bus stops within walking distance from people's homes. The Inclusive Mobility guidance published by the Department for Transport is used to help establish appropriate measures for public transport infrastructure to meet the needs of all population groups. For major housing developments and residential care institutions (C2), it is likely that a financial contribution towards Community Transport Services will be sought and secured through a Section 106 Agreement.

Well maintained and safe routes and walkways, accessible open spaces and walkable neighbourhoods would encourage and facilitate increased physical activity amongst the elderly. These walkways and paths need to be:

  • Well-lit.
  • Evenly surfaced.
  • The transition should be gradual where there are changes in ground levels.
  • Where steps are unavoidable, the provision of railings is necessary.
  • Should include seating areas in strategic places, such as at crossroads that are particularly useful for people living with dementia as it gives them time to rest and gather their thoughts.
  • Circular routes can also encourage physical activity amongst people living with dementia as they allow them to return to the start of their walk despite some potential moments of confusion.
  • The design of street furniture should be kept simple and familiar to avoid it being mistaken for some other object.
  • By placing street furniture such as benches under street trees, allows shading during hot weather.
  • When using paving and tarmac it should be plain and non-reflective and should contrast with walls in colour and texture. Because, dementia can affects people's perception of their surroundings and different surfaces. Dark areas might appear to them as a hole in the ground, whilst glaring/shining surfaces can look like water or slippery surfaces, this can be very disorientating and scary.
  • Sites should be well signposted using a tonal contrast of colours with a clear and simple font.

Case Study: Berrington Court

Berrington Court comprises 165, 1 and 2 bed flats, located on the Silverwood’s mixed-use estate in Kidderminster. The scheme provides independent accommodation alongside communal facilities such as a restaurant, hair and beauty salon and provision of 24-hour care, if needed. The scheme neighbours the Wyre Forest Leisure Centre, a supermarket and is in closer proximity to public transport and pedestrian routes along the canal to Kidderminster and Stourport.


The condition of the housing that we live in can affect both our physical and mental health.  Inadequate housing can cause or contribute to many preventable diseases and injuries these include diseases of the respiratory system, the nervous system, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Some groups are more vulnerable to the conditions that they live in such as babies, children, the elderly, those with a disability, those with health conditions and those that spend much of their time inside their house. A house that is warm and dry can have a positive effect on our health and specifically reduce respiratory health conditions. A house that is poorly designed, poorly constructed or has been constructed of unsuitable materials can lead to mould that can have an effect on those with asthma, allergies or respiratory disease.

There are different ways that housing affects the health of its occupants.

  • An unhealthy home can have issues such as cold, damp or hazards that affect health.
  • Homes that are unsuitable for meeting the needs of the occupants due to overcrowding or a lack of appropriate adaptations
  • Insecure tenancies where the occupant may be living with the risk of eviction especially in the private rented sector.
  • Lack of outdoor amenity space or accessibility to nearby public open space

Fuel Poverty

Fuel poverty is defined as the inability to keep your home adequately heated. In England, fuel poverty is currently measured by the Low Income, High Cost definition (LIHC). This states that a household is in fuel poverty when energy costs to heat to adequate levels are above the national average and, if they were to heat to this level, the residual income would leave the household below the poverty line. Fuel poverty data is released annually by central government; in 2017 (the latest available data) 11.2% of Wyre Forest households were living in fuel poverty. The key factors influencing whether a household is fuel poor are the energy efficiency of their home, household income and energy costs.

According to the NEA 15.7% of people in Wyre Forest live in Fuel Poverty ( compared to a national average of 13.23%. In the 2019 Local Authority Health profile, Wyre Forest has an incidence of 32.9% winter deaths compared to a West Midlands regional average of 30.8% (<).

Therefore, the following principles must be considered when designing new residential schemes.

Health and Wellbeing Principles: Housing
Health Impact Assessment template reference Where relevant, proposals must comply with policy by:
5.1 Providing safe, comfortable, affordable housing that caters for the needs of the occupants throughout the different stages of life (lifetime homes principles).
5.2 Providing different size and style of dwellings to cater for the needs of all members of society.
5.3 Housing should be constructed of suitable materials and design, that ensures high quality and energy efficiency.
5.4 Improvements to energy efficiency in existing stock is encouraged.
5.5 Ensuring layout design of new developments maximise the opportunity for accessibility to green spaces, local facilities, public transport and services.
5.6 Maximise the opportunities for walking and cycling routes.
5.7 All new developments and where possible redevelopment of existing buildings should consider location, design, siting and orientation to maximise the use of natural heat (Policy DM.24).
5.8 All new dwellings should incorporate the energy from renewable or low carbon sources equivalent to at least 10% of predicted energy requirements unless demonstrated that this would make the development unviable (Policy DM.24).
5.9 Providing an area outside for drying washing which will reduce drying washing indoors that can add to moisture in the air and damp which can exacerbate health conditions.
5.10 Providing new development with superfast broadband or alternative solutions.


Being in work is better for your health than not being in work. One of the important determinants of health inequalities within society is the availability and nature of employment. Employment matters because:

  • It helps to prevent social exclusion.
  • Paid employment has the potential to protect health and contribute to reduced health inequalities.

Wyre Forest District Council needs to ensure that enough employment land is allocated within the district to achieve sustainable growth, creating opportunities for people to work. The district’s economy is vital to the prosperity, health and quality of life of its residents. The council aims to ensure that the right amount of suitable land is available to attract new business to the district and enable existing businesses to expand and adapt to changing markets in both urban and rural environments. If there are a wide range of employment opportunities within the district many residents will not need to travel far to work, this has benefits including encouraging travel to work by walking and cycling, reducing traffic movement, and helping the environment by reducing the carbon footprint.

Therefore, the following principles need to be considered as part of an HIA.

Health and Wellbeing Principles: Employment
Health Impact Assessment template reference Where relevant, proposals must comply with policy by:
6.1 Incorporating green space in the surrounding areas wherever possible.
6.2 Providing well ventilated and lit areas that maximise natural sunlight.
6.3 Designing layouts that maximise the opportunities for pedestrian and cycle linkages and minimise the demand for travel.
6.4 Incorporating flexible designs, addressing access to open space and enabling adaption for future needs and use of internal spaces or extensions.
6.5 Providing new development with superfast broadband or alternative solutions.
6.6 Providing the generation of energy from renewable or low carbon sources equivalent to at least 10% of predicted energy requirements. Large scale developments should consider the potential for a decentralised energy and heating network.

Case Study: Wyre Forest House

Wyre Forest House was built in 2011 and is the headquarters for a number of companies, including Wyre Forest District Council. The building provides a versatile and flexible space, which has been adapted to meet the requirements of its tenants over the years. It has courtyard areas and outside space for staff to sit, is near to active travel routes such as the canal tow path, is near a bus stop and provides bike parking. Heating is provided by ground source heat pumps and the natural light is maximised through the incorporation of windows and sky lights in the offices.

Healthy foods

Obesity is a significant public health concern, it can lead to long term ill health, poor quality of life or a reduced life expectancy. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Furthermore, obesity can deprive an individual of an extra 9 years of life, preventing some older people to not reach retirement (Health matters: obesity and the food environment - GOV.UK (

Planning can have a positive influence on the provision of healthy foods in several ways:

  • Planning can help address the issue by ensuring that public open space, recreational facilities and allotments are accessible to encourage both children and adults to be active and use outside space.
  • Planning also can help to restrict the location of hot food takeaways. Policy DM.18 Hot Food Takeaways in the Wyre Forest District Local Plan Submission Version states that

    "Outside of designated centres, hot food takeaways will not be permitted where the proposal is within 400m as the crow flies of any boundary of a school."
  • Planning can help development maintain or enhance opportunities for food production such as allotments and community orchards.

This is reflected in the following principles in the table below:

Health and Wellbeing Principles: Healthy Foods
Health Impact Assessment reference Where relevant, proposals must comply with policy by:
7.1 Ensure there is access to healthy and nutritious food which can help to improve the diet of the local community and prevent long term conditions related to obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease.
7.2 Use good practice in planning to support a localised food system, including local food production such as allotments, orchards, and other community projects ensuring a variety of healthy, affordable food is available, especially to those who are on a low income.
7.3 Take positive action to change the food environment to increase the diversity of local food shopping opportunities and limit the number and concentration of hot food takeaways generally serve foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

Wyre Forest District Council considers that the location of hot food takeaways in close proximity to schools would lead to children consuming a greater amount of unhealthy food which would undermine initiatives to promote healthier diets, particularly in schools. Therefore, outside of designated centres, hot food takeaways (sui- generis) will not be permitted where the proposal is within 400m of the boundary of a school (see DM.18 Hot Food Takeaways) and proposals for hot food takeaway uses should not result in two or more hot food takeaway uses adjacent to one another in all the district's centres.

A hot food takeaway is defined within the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) as falling within sui generis (r) and being for the sale of hot food where consumption of that food is mostly undertaken off the premises.

Over recent years individuals and communities have become more interested in growing fruit and vegetables as the health and environmental benefits are further recognised. This resurgence has meant that local authorities are increasingly unable to meet demand for allotment plots across the country and in Wyre Forest. (Local Government Association (2009) Growing in the Community). There is also now national and local recognition that access to fresh and healthy food is something that should be encouraged within the planning process to improve health and wellbeing (Town and Country Planning Association (July 2015) Public Health in Planning - Good Practice Guide).

The provision of allotments can improve community wellbeing, providing a source of fresh food and opportunities for healthy outdoor exercise and social interaction. Other schemes providing opportunities for food growing include community gardens orchards and other community-managed projects in urban areas. Vertical gardening and the use of green walls should also be encouraged as a means of local food production to householders who may not have access to allotments.  Community orchards can help to revive an interest in fruit growing, provide a way of sharing knowledge and horticultural skills and encourage the local community to grow food for themselves.

The location of new allotments, orchards and other food growing areas is important to minimise their exposure to exhaust emissions. Any edible planting should grow in areas away from busy roads.

Case Study: Growing Routes Community Allotment

The Growing Roots Community Allotment is a project which aims to bring people in the community together and use the grounds of St Peter's Community Church Birchen Coppice in a productive and ecologically friendly way.

There are a number of different areas within the grounds, including individual allotment plots, shared community growing spaces and garden, shared fruit bushes and fruit trees, herb garden, wildflower meadow to encourage bees and butterflies, cob oven and BBQ area.

Members of the community are encouraged to help on the allotment for free. They can have their own small plot or can just work on shared spaces. The area is inclusive with a raised bed for wheelchair uses and a secure children’s play area.


Environmental issues

Climate change and carbon emissions

Our climate is changing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future due to carbon emissions already emitted and locked into our climate systems. The more that is done to reduce carbon emissions, the less extreme the future impacts are likely to be. Worcestershire’s climate has changed over the last century, with changes including an increase in average annual temperature and with winters becoming wetter relative to summers. Predictions for our future climate include increasing temperature and changes to precipitation patterns and an increase in extreme weather events such as heatwaves and flooding.

The potential impacts of climate change upon health include the increased risk of sunburn / skin cancer, increased numbers / types of pests, agricultural impacts such as changes to food growing patterns, overheating in buildings affecting living and working conditions and the physical and mental health impacts of flooding.

The types and amounts of fuel we use to generate energy determine the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere, which in turn impacts on climate change. Heat and power provision from fossil fuels such as coal and gas contribute significantly to our overall carbon emissions. This can be reduced by generating energy from renewable sources through use of systems such as solar panels and air and ground source heating. Whilst clean energy technology and markets continue to develop, new development in the near term will still rely upon fossil fuel generated heat and power to some extent. Whatever source of fuel is used, it is important economically, as well as environmentally, to use energy generated as efficiently as possible.

Air Quality

Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts. It is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer. Additionally, air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society: children and older people, and those with heart and lung conditions. There is also often a strong correlation with equalities issues, because areas with poor air quality are also often the less affluent areas.

Two Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) have been declared by WFDC for exceedances of the annual mean objective for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). These are at Welch Gate in Bewdley and in the Horsefair and Coventry Street area of Kidderminster.


Health and Wellbeing Principles: Environmental Hazards
Health Impact Assessment template reference Where relevant, proposals must comply with policy by:
8.1 Recognise that development can lead to an increase in environmental hazards that impact upon health and wellbeing. These include poor air quality, noise pollution, increased carbon emissions and climate impacts such as increased flooding frequency.
8.2 Ensure that the impact of individual developments, as well as the cumulative impact, is considered.
8.3 Ensure that steps are taken throughout the planning process to identify, minimise and mitigate potential environmental hazards caused by new development.

Through the Climate Change Act, 2021, the UK has set a legally binding target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Energy Strategy 2019-2030 aims to reduce carbon emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030, to double the size of the low carbon sector by 2030 and triple energy production from renewable generation by 2030.

The potential impacts of climate change are far reaching and it is vital that new development considers the impacts and includes measures to adapt accordingly.

Climate impacts must be considered in development of the built environment, including buildings, roads, drains and utilities, which are designed for the long-term – 50 to 60 years or longer. Structures designed now will need to cope with the climate
of the 2070s at least and development built to withstand the likely impacts of climate change. Houses built today will be there way beyond 2050 and ensuring they are built as efficiently as possible will help to minimise carbon emissions as well as the risk of fuel poverty. Retrofitting of existing properties is also very important in tackling fuel poverty and various schemes are in place to help upgrade heating and insulation in these homes.

Noise Pollution

Noise can impact upon health, productivity and quality of life, particularly at home. However, there are a number of design and layout principles that can reduce the adverse impacts of noise. The mitigation of noise, particularly in residential development, needs to be carefully designed into new development using building design and internal layout. Developers should take into consideration existing sources of noise and overall ambient noise levels. This will be particularly relevant where new development is located near a busy road, railway lines or other noise-generating infrastructure. Additionally, the transmission of noise between dwellings such as flats and terraced properties can be a problem. The appropriate use of measures such as sound insulation, bunds and noise barriers can mitigate disturbances from noise.

Case study idea: Bewdley Medical Centre

The new Bewdley Medical Centre opened to patients in 2016. The site is located within easy reach of the town centre, enabling access by bus, foot, bicycle or car. Bicycle parking and showering/ drying facilities are provided.

The centre was built to BREEAM ‘very good’ standard. The materials used were locally sourced with low embodied energy, recyclable and long lasting. The building was constructed based on the principle of lower resource demand, with low energy use being an essential feature. The building features solar photovoltaic panels and efficient lighting. Natural ventilation is in place where possible and high efficient heat recovery units are in place in rooms where mechanical ventilation is necessary.

Appendix One:

Health Impact Assessment Screening Sheet for completion (MS Word 70KB)

Health Impact Assessment template for completion (MS Word 29KB)


Active Travel: Means making journeys in physically active ways, for example by walking, using a mobility aid, cycling or scootering.

BREEAM: Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method is a method for assessing, rating and certifying the sustainability of buildings.

Built Environment: This refers to man-made structures, features, and facilities viewed collectively as an environment in which people and live and work.

Climate Change: Long Term changes in temperature, precipitation, wind and all other aspects of the Earth’s climate. Often regarded as a result of human activity and fossil fuel consumption. It is part of national government policy that the planning system should support the transition to a low carbon future.

Community Facilities: Facilities which provide for the health, welfare, social, educational, spiritual, recreational, leisure and cultural needs of the community.

Green Infrastructure: A network of multi-functional green and blue spaces and other natural features, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental, economic, health and wellbeing benefits for nature, climate, local and wider communities and prosperity.

Health Impact Assessment (HIA): A tool used to predict the health implication of a planning proposal on a population. It ensures that the effects of development on both health and health inequalities are considered and addressed during the planning process.

Infrastructure: Basic services necessary for development to take place; for example, roads, electricity, sewerage, water, education and health facilities.

Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA): The JSNA is a continuous process which provides information on health and well-being in order to inform decision making.  It is used to determine what actions local authorities, the NHS and other partners need to take to meet people's health and social care needs and to address the wider determinants that impact on their health and well-being. Undertaking the JSNA is a duty under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Local Plan: The collective term given to all statutory documents that form the Development Plan for the District.

Local Planning Authority (LPA): Refers to Wyre Forest District Council in this SPD.

Major Developments: Major developments include;

  • Residential development comprising at least 10 dwellings or a site area of at least 0.5 hectare if the number of dwellings is not specified.
  • For non-residential development where the floor space to be built is greater than 1000 square metres of the site area is a least 1 hectare in size.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF): The document which sets out the Governments planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. The revised NPPF was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in July 2021.

National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG):  Web based resource of planning practice guidance, launched and maintained by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to enable practitioners to implement the content of the NPPF. The NPPG is currently being updated to reflect the changes from the revised NPPF.

Neighbourhood Development Plans: Neighbourhood Development Plans allow local people to come together to decide how they want their area to develop. They can be developed by town and parish councils or by neighbourhood forums outside of parished areas.

Open Space: All space of public value, which can offer opportunities for sport and recreation or can also act as a visual amenity and a haven for wildlife. Areas of open space include public landscaped areas, playing fields, parks and play areas, and also areas of water such as rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs.

Public Realm: Is defined as publicly owned places and spaces that belong to and are accessible by everyone.

Section 106 Agreement: A legal agreement between developers and a local planning authority made in accordance with Section 106 (s106) of the 1991 Planning Act, usually to secure benefits for local residents without which a planning application would be refused (see also Planning Obligations).

Sui Generis: Is a term used to categorise buildings that  do not fall within any particular use class for the purposes of planning permission.

Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs): Provide additional information to guide and support the Development Plan.

Sustainable Development: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The NPPF sets out a definition of sustainable development and sets how it is to be identified and delivered.

[Note1] [Public Health England Working Together to promote Active Travel, a briefing for Local Authorities, May 2016] Return to text

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