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PR 31 - Planning is central to tackling obesity and related public health issues

17 October 2007

The Foresight group's report into obesity in the UK has been seized upon by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a benchmark in planning's drive to create healthy sustainable communities. Creating healthy environments extends beyond the simple notion of 'designing out' car dependency and should focus on how we as a society want our cities to look, which in turn means taking some tough decisions. For example, building on back gardens, creating flats not family homes, use of the green belt and the role of parks and active green space.

Kelvin MacDonald, RTPI special advisor said: \"Tough decisions on how we want our cities to look need to be taken at a national level. Cities can either be much more densely developed, which could mean developing spaces such as playing fields and back gardens. Alternatively we could look again at green belts and ask if they are forcing development to take place in inappropriate locations. Creating healthy environments is a central tenet of the new holistic approach to planning now called, spatial planning.\"

Planning and public health have a long and illustrious shared history. John Snow's discovery of contaminated water sources in 19th century London led to the Sanitation Reforms and the beginnings of a sewer system still in use today. At the same time, early planning efforts were directed at overcoming the health problems associated with slum housing. Health and the built environment are inextricably linked.

The RTPI recognises the importance of understanding public health in furthering the health and well-being of people as part of delivering sustainable communities. It is necessary for spatial and transport planners to consider the short and long term implications of their proposals upon the well-being of the affected communities.


For further information please contact:

Andrew Kliman, Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479,

Paul Tomlinson, Leader, RTPI Environmental Planning and Protection network,

Notes to Editors

1. The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
The RTPI is a dynamic organisation leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. We understand that just as people develop places, so places develop people. We are committed to the enhancement of our natural and human environment, using spatial planning to manage competing pressures on our built environments and the very real effects on our space. Through our 20,000 members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at:
41 Botolph Lane, London, EC3R 8DL, charity no. 262865

2. RTPI Environmental Planning and Protection network