We propose that the Oxfordshire Plan should include healthy place-shaping as a standalone policy, to establish a framework that can apply across Oxfordshire for the design and master planning of major developments (as defined in the NPPF).
Example of the principles that a policy might usefully include are set out below:
Explicitly address the existing and projected health and wellbeing needs of an area and consider how existing community assets could be enhanced to help promote healthy life expectancy.
Help to reduce obesity and levels of physical inactivity through the provision of good-quality playing pitches, parks and open space, sports and active leisure facilities, and outdoor gyms that are accessible to all.
Provide opportunities for people to become more active through the design of street layout and public realm to encourage walking and cycling as priority modes of transport; create and enhance cycling and walking networks as well as ensure connectivity between new development, local services and facilities, access to parks and open spaces and public transport.
Reduce social isolation and loneliness through providing good-quality social community infrastructure which encourages opportunities for social interaction and helps to support the growth of friendly communities. Also, to create community development strategies which contain actions to encourage community cohesion, both within the development itself and between the new development and existing communities.
Secures access for those with disabilities. Make it easier for people to make healthier food choices by providing allotments and other opportunities for food growing such as community gardens, school allotments, community orchards, roof gardens, edible landscaping around new schools and housing developments involving fruit and nut trees and planting.
Aim to improve air quality and reduce noise through locating and designing pollution generating land uses and roads to avoid adverse impacts on sensitive land uses. Provide diversity in the residential offer that improves accessibility, affordability and promotes inter-generational connectivity and lifetime neighbourhoods.
Design good quality buildings which are energy efficient and mitigate against the impacts of climate change. Create safe environments, addressing the fear and perception of crime, including improving safety for all road users.
It is also proposed that the Oxfordshire Plan includes a policy requiring the rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA) for major developments in Oxfordshire, but the length and detail of the assessment should be proportionate to the scale and complexity of the proposed development.
A methodology and assessment checklist for carrying out rapid HIA of major development proposals (10 or more houses) has been prepared for Oxfordshire and has been published as the Oxfordshire Health Impact Assessment Toolkit.
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