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Draft Local Plan Review


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11. Health and Supporting Local Communities

Introduction

370. There are many factors which contribute to creating healthy communities and the NPPF recognises the importance of promoting healthy communities and the role that the Local Plan can play in creating healthy, inclusive communities. The Health and Social Care Act (2012) gave local authorities new duties and responsibilities for health improvement and requires every local authority to use all the levers at its disposal to improve health and wellbeing, and the Local Plan is one such lever.

371. The health of Solihull residents is generally good and is getting better, however, good health is not consistent across the borough, and the health of some of our residents is significantly below an acceptable level. Premature deaths, work limiting illness and disability and acute morbidity are issues that still disproportionately affect some parts of our population.

372. Another factor contributing to a population's health and wellbeing is a successful economy that offers good jobs and provides income for all communities, thus underlining the importance of the economic policies in this plan. 

373. Additionally, people need access to a choice of facilities and activities to suit their need to enable them to keep fit and well, both physically and mentally, and be part of a community which is welcoming, safe, clean and prosperous.  The provision of a broad range of services also contributes to an area's character and in place shaping, which in turn can be a further contributory factor to the state of an individual's health.

374. The Council recognises the importance of health and wellbeing and the Local Plan has a key role to play in implementing strategies to help people lead healthier, active lifestyles. Many of the policies in the Local Plan will have an impact on health and wellbeing and in drafting the local plan policies, this has been given due consideration  to ensure that, the overall impact of any new development should result in positive health outcomes.

375. The draft Local Plan contributes to supporting communities and promotes health through its spatial strategy and policies.  These include policies relating to the location of new development, sustainable development, infrastructure, provision of new homes, jobs, town centres and sustainable travel (promoting public transport, walking and cycling).  These policies demonstrate that improved health outcomes are integral to the local plan and meeting its vision and objectives.

Policy P18 Health and Well Being

The Council will, with its partners, create an environment, which supports positive health outcomes and reduces inequality.

New development proposals will be expected to promote, support and enhance physical and mental health and wellbeing. Healthy lifestyles will be enabled by:

•Facilitating opportunities for formal and informal physical activity, exercise opportunities, recreation and play through access to well maintained open spaces;

•Contributing to and creating  a high quality, inclusive and attractive environment which minimise and mitigate against potential harm from risks such as pollution and obesogenic environments, and promoting health and well-being & opportunities for social interaction;

•Increasing opportunities for walking, cycling and encouraging more sustainable travel choices.

•Improving the quality and access to the strategic and local green infrastructure network in the Borough, particularly in the North Solihull Regeneration Area and in areas where accessible green spaces and infrastructure is identified as lacking.

•Supporting the retention and  protection  of facilities which promote healthy lifestyles such as open space, including public rights of way to open space, playing pitches and allotments;

•Supporting safe and inclusive design that discourage crime and anti-social behaviour, and encourage social cohesion.

•Delivering new and improved health services and facilities in areas accessed by sustainable transport modes  (facilities for primary medical care should be identified and planned for);

•Supporting initiatives which enable or improve access to healthy food.  For example, provide opportunities for growing local produce and encouraging people to make healthy food choices;

•Encouraging initiatives to promote the energy efficiency of housing;

•Seeking to retain and enhance, where appropriate, green spaces and incorporate planting, trees, open spaces and soft surfaces wherever possible in order to secure a variety of spaces for residents, visitors or employees to use and observe and;

•Resisting proposals for hot food takeaways being located in areas that could lead to an undue influence on poor diet choices.

Health Impact Assessments

Formal consideration of health impacts through the use of Health Impact Assessments will provide opportunity to maximise positive impacts of the proposed development and minimise potential adverse impacts. For significant developments, such as large scale housing sites and significant commercial developments, a Health Impact Assessment should be submitted. The Council will develop an HIA tool to assist developers to assess the impacts of a proposal and recommend measures to address negative impacts and maximise benefits. The tool will include measures to assist scoping a more comprehensive assessment for the particularly significant and complex proposals and will be based upon a principle of proportionality to the nature and scale of development being proposed.

Justification

376. The Marmot Review (February 2010) highlighted that socio-economic inequalities, including the built environment, have a clear effect on the health outcomes of the population. One of the key policy objectives aimed at reducing the gap in life expectancy between people of lower and higher socio-economic backgrounds, is to "create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities".

377. The Solihull Health and Wellbeing Board in their Health & Wellbeing Strategy 2016-19 set four priority areas for Solihull to improve health and wellbeing. One of these priorities is to create 'Healthy & Sustainable Places and Communities' through maximising opportunities to address the social determinants of health through greater integration of the planning, transport, housing, environmental and health systems.

378. The main elements identified as having significant impacts on health are:

  • Pollution: There is evidence of the adverse effects of outdoor air pollution and on cardio-respiratory mortality and morbidity. A reduction in traffic to reduce air pollution, for example, is proven to improve health.
  • Green / open space: It is recognised that living close to areas of green space – parks, woodland and other open spaces – can improve health, regardless of social class. Research has identified the direct benefits of green space to both physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Transport: It is suggested that transport is a significant challenge to public health in terms of road traffic injuries, physical inactivity, community severance and noise and air pollution. However, it also allows access to work, education, social networks and services that can improve people's opportunities.
  • Food: It is recognised that dietary change can play a key role in promoting health by reducing the consumption of saturated fat. The availability of healthy food is often worse in deprived areas due to the mix of shops that tend to locate there.
  • Housing: Poor housing conditions and design have significant impacts on health inequalities. Living in cold housing is a risk to health, fuel poverty contributes to winter deaths and incidences of respiratory disease, and accidents in the home are also an issue.
  • Community participation and social isolation: It is recognised that social participation acts as a protective factor against dementia and cognitive decline over the age of 65.

379. Planning has a key role in shaping the wider determinants of health and wellbeing; at a local and strategic scale. The priorities of the Solihull Health & Wellbeing Board are founded on the understanding that a wide range of social, economic and environmental factors, over which individuals often have little control, influences a person's health. This is summarised in the diagram below (reproduced with permission from Barton & Grant).

380. The Council recognises the positive benefits that access to green infrastructure, physical activity, exercise opportunities, recreation and play have on both physical and mental health, as well as child development.  The availability of a variety of high quality and accessible open spaces and play, sports and leisure facilities is vital to enabling opportunities for formal and informal sport and recreation, both indoor and outdoor, in order to improve health and wellbeing. The multi-functional benefits of green infrastructure extend beyond a place for outdoor pursuits and enjoyment of visual amenity. It can create a healthier environment by filtering pollutants, attenuating noise pollution, decreasing the urban heat island effect, reducing flood risk impacts and providing opportunities to interact with nature.

381. Evidence from the Solihull Joint Strategic Needs Assessment highlights that more affluent areas of the Borough tend to be less physically active through 'lifestyle activities' such as walking and carrying shopping, partly due to higher car ownership levels and car use. An increased emphasis on walking and cycling, in addition to providing opportunities for physical activity, also contributes to improved air quality.

382. In order to assess potential health impacts early in the development process, significant proposals of at least 100 residential units, 10,000sqm non-residential floorspace or large transport projects should include a Health Impact Assessment or equivalent. This could include supporting evidence where requirements are being explicitly met through some other means, such as a sustainability statement or environmental impact assessment (EIA). Where significant adverse impacts are identified and unavoidable, measures to mitigate or compensate for these will be provided.

383. Poor quality neighbourhoods can impact negatively on the health and well-being of those who live in them and the quality and design of the built environment and wider public realm has an impact on whether and how people use a place. High quality and well designed buildings and spaces which have safe, attractive and convenient access can encourage social interaction, reduce crime and fear of crime and influence travel mode, thereby having a positive effect on health and well-being.

384. The provision of appropriate, well designed, secure, affordable and energy efficient housing is essential in securing improvements to people's health and well-being. Solihull's ageing population is likely to lead to increasing problems with ill-health from poorly insulated and damp properties which are expensive to heat.  In conjunction with Policy P4 'Meeting Housing Needs' and Policy P15 'Securing Design Quality', developments which address these issues and mitigate some of the health impacts of an ageing population will be supported. Provision of and access to health facilities and services has a direct effect on health. It is therefore crucial to ensure that health care is available and accessible to those who need it.

385. Poor diet is a significant factor in obesity and associated poor health. Some parts of Solihull, particularly in the northern part of the borough, can experience a high proportion of certain food and drink uses, which can detract from a diversity of services in those areas. In particular, a high concentration of hot food takeaways (Use Class A5) in certain areas, or proposals that are not appropriately located, can result in an undue influence on poor choice of diet that in turn contributes  to a wide range of health issues (e.g. obesity, diabetes, etc.).  In addition such proposals can lead to increased levels of environmental health issues (odour and litter issues; and anti-social behaviour).

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Reducing inequalities in the Borough

G To maintain a supply of gypsy and traveller sites.

H Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable travel

J Improving health and well being

Policy P19 Range and Quality of Local Services

Designated district & local centres.

These include: Knowle, Dorridge, Castle Bromwich, Marston Green, Balsall Common, Hobs Moat, Kingshurst, Arran Way, Craig Croft, Dickens Heath, Hatchford Brook, Shelly Farm, Meriden and Olton.

Proposals reflecting the scale and nature of the centre's role and function in serving local needs; the opportunity to reduce the need to travel; or the need to sustain the economic viability and vitality of the centre will be supported.

All new development will need to be sensitive to local character and enhance the public realm.

Parades and Local Shops

Proposals which result in the loss of local shops, without appropriate alternative provision will not be supported, unless it is has been demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of the use being retained.

New Convenience Shops

New convenience shops within existing communities or as part of new development will be encouraged provided they are of an appropriate scale and enhance the public realm.

Other Community and Social Infrastructure

Proposals which result in the loss of community and social infrastructure, without appropriate alternative provision, will not be supported, unless it is has been demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of the use being retained.

Justification

386. District Centres provide services and goods to their local communities and in the hierarchy of town centres are second tier to the main town centres of Solihull, Shirley and Chelmsley Wood. Castle Bromwich has been identified as the only District Centre in the Borough, the centres in Knowle, Dorridge, Balsall Common function as 'local centres' which service the communities immediately around them and reduce the need to travel for staple purchases.

387. Local Centres typically include a convenience shop or a small supermarket; they may also have newsagents, pharmacy, local café/restaurants, hot food takeaways, small office and may also be a popular location for independent retailers.

388. In terms of function, local centres add considerably to the quality of life, and the Council considers it is important to retain the vitality of the local centres, even though permitted development rights mean the council now has limited control over changes of use.

389. Solihull has a number of local centres of varying size which act as a focus and provide key services for the communities they serve (which can also include the surrounding rural area of those centres outside the conurbation).

390. While shopping habits change and evolve, the Council will enable a broad range of facilities of a suitable scale in local centres and will expect good design that respects local character and enhances the local public realm. 

391. There are numerous local parades and freestanding small shops throughout the Borough. Local parades and shops provide for the day to day needs, as well as offering a place for informal interaction and thereby contributing to health and well-being of the community. The Council will seek to sustain and encourage these valued facilities and services, particularly in rural areas where this would reduce the ability of the community to meet its day to day needs.

392. Small scale local shops and services providing for local needs on a daily basis can be particularly important in rural areas where access to larger centres may be more difficult without car access.

393. Where proposals are submitted that would lead to the loss of local facilities without there being appropriate alternative provision, it will be expected that applicants will demonstrate that there is no reasonable prospect of the use being retained.  This may include demonstrating that the premises have been appropriately marketed to retain the existing use.

394. The provision of facilities will be expected to support sustainable development principles and meet the requirements of other relevant parts of the plan, including Policy P15 that seeks to secure design quality.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Reducing inequalities in the Borough

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

D Securing sustainable economic growth

H Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable travel

Policy P20 Provision for Open Space, Childrens Play, Sport, Recreation and Leisure

AExisting public open space, children's play, sports and recreational facilities:

The Council will support proposals which will contribute towards the enhancement of existing recreational facilities; children's play and open space.

Existing facilities that are of value to the local community for recreation, visual amenity, nature conservation or that make an important contribution to the quality of the environment or network of green infrastructure will be protected, unless:

•it can be evidenced clearly that the open space or facilities are  surplus to requirements and are no longer required to meet local need

•the proposed development provides equivalent or better replacement open space, sport, or recreation facilities in size, quality and accessibility within an accessible location for existing and potential new users; or

•the development results in a substantial community benefit that clearly outweighs the harm resulting from the loss of the existing open space/facilities.

Where existing provision is not being protected then the Council will require appropriate compensatory measures. Enhancement of open space or buildings shall be in accordance with Policy P15 – Securing Design Quality and Policy P10 – Natural Environment.  

The Council supports the principle of designating land as Local Green Space, including designation within neighbourhood plans. Where designation would be appropriate, necessary and where the open space meets the criteria outlined in national guidance.

BProvision of new public open space, children's play, sports and recreational facilities:

The Council will seek to secure well-designed new and improved open space and their maintenance as an integral part of new residential (including care homes), commercial (over 1ha or 1,000 sqm) or mixed use development.

New housing developments will be required to provide or contribute towards new open spaces or the improvement of existing provision in the area, unless financial unviability is clearly demonstrated.

In areas where an existing local open space provision shortfall is identified, new or improved provision to accommodate the needs of the new and existing population should accord with the local standards and priorities for action outlined in the adopted Green Spaces Strategy (reviewed 2014) and future revisions, the Indoor Sports Facilities Strategy and Green Infrastructure Study.

Where the minimum standard for children's play and youth facilities is already met, developments will be expected to provide additional enhancements as a result of development.

To ensure a high quality living environment for all new residential development, including supported housing schemes [for the elderly and those with disabilities]; provision should be made for on-site amenity space that is well designed and in accordance with Policy P15 – Securing Design Quality. Proposals for family housing will be expected to provide opportunities for safe children's play in accordance with the Design for Play and the Free Play Network's 10 Design Principles.

CProvision of new indoor sports and leisure facilities

The Council will support proposals for new or improved sports and leisure facilities providing that the development:

•Addresses any shortfall in provision outlined in relevant council strategies and policies (e.g.  the Indoor Sports  Facilities Strategy or the adopted Green Spaces Strategy (reviewed 2014));

•Reflects the 'town centre first' principle outlined in national guidance and is of a scale and size appropriate to the hierarchy of Town Centres as defined in Policies P1 – Support Economic Success, P2 – Maintain Strong Competitive Town Centres, and P19 – Range and Quality of Local Services;

•Is situated within an accessible location as defined in Policy P7 – Accessibility, where the development is easily accessible to the local community and is well served, or is capable of being well served, by public transport, walking and cycling; and

•Accords with Policies P14 & P17.

Subject to the above criteria, the Council will support proposals for shared sports facilities at educational centres, where the facility also serves the local area.

DWaterways

The Council will support proposals that encourage greater recreational and leisure use and enhancement of the river and canal network providing that the development safeguards the historic and natural environment and purposes of the Green Belt, in accordance with Policies P10 – Natural Environment,  P16 – Conservation of Heritage Assets and Local Distinctiveness and P17 – Countryside and Green Belt.

Justification

395. Open space is defined in the glossary of the NPPF as "all open space of public value including not just land, but also areas of water (such as rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs) which offer important opportunities for sport and recreation and can act as a visual amenity."

396. Open spaces include green spaces such as parks and allotments, natural habitats, playground and amenity space. While some open spaces have a strategic importance and are consequently identified as Green Belt, others have a local importance.  However all form the network of open space.

397. Open spaces have many roles including providing for recreation and physical activity; encouraging social interactions; promoting health and well-being and quality of life; providing facilities for a child's development; encouraging walking and cycling; reducing flood risk; and safeguarding biodiversity.  They are essential to encouraging healthy lifestyles, benefitting wellbeing and a key component of the quality of the local character of areas, providing visual amenity and wildlife value.

398. The loss of open spaces can not only lead to longer journeys for sports and recreation, potentially limiting the health benefits of open spaces and opportunities for the community to meet and participate in local life but may adversely impact on creating strong, vibrant communities, and affect inward investment into an area.

399. National Planning Guidance is clear that existing open spaces, sports and recreational buildings of land should not be built on unless development proposals meet the exceptions set out in NPPF.  Policy P20 advocates strong protection of open space, sports and recreational facilities, and where proposed development would result in the loss of a facility or area of open space, the policy requires appropriate compensation for the loss. Such compensatory measures could include re-provision or the enhancement of existing open space or facilities, and be in accordance with the priorities for action outlined in adopted Council strategies such as the Green Spaces Strategy (reviewed 2014).

400. Paragraphs 77 & 78 of the NPPF introduced the Local Green Space (LGS) Designation. This designation allows local communities to identify areas of local green space which should be provided special protection. LGS can only be designated when a Local Plan or Neighbourhood Plan is prepared or reviewed. The existing Local Plan seeks to protect open space, which has specific importance to a local community and development will be restricted on such land unless exceptional circumstances are provided.  Where land is designated as LGS, it will need to be consistent with the wider planning policy for the area and look to complement investment in the provision of news homes, employment and other services.

401. The policy also seeks to ensure that new development integrates open space, sports and recreational facilities into the design of the scheme to ensure a high quality environment or contributes to the Green Infrastructure network. In particular, and to address issues with childhood obesity within the Borough, proposals for family housing will be expected to provide opportunities for safe children's play, such as gardens and enhance existing play and youth facilities. Proposals for new indoor sports and leisure facilities should address any existing shortfalls in provision and be directed to centres and the most accessible locations within the Borough.

402. The major rivers within the Borough, alongside the canal network, have an important role in the Borough's local distinctiveness, biodiversity, adaptation to climate change, leisure and recreation and tourism potential. The rivers and canals can be a particular draw for people, both residents and visitors, who are looking for quite enjoyment of them, with pastimes like narrow boating, fishing, walking or wildlife observation.  While development near to these water courses will be restricted, since much of the watercourses are located within the Green Belt,  proposals, sensitive to the local character and that encourage greater recreational use and enhancement of the 'blue' network will, where appropriate,  be considered favourably.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Reducing inequalities in the Borough

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

D Securing sustainable economic growth

E Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

F Climate change

H Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable travel

J Improving health and well being

K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

L Water quality and flood risk

View Comments (98) 21. Do you agree with the policies health and supporting communities?  If not why not, and what alternatives would you suggest?

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