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4. Maximise the potential of our built and natural environment to enable healthy lifestyles and prevent disease

Why is this important?

There is strong evidence that the places, communities and homes within which we live shape our health and emotional wellbeing. Well-designed places can promote active lifestyles by encouraging walking, cycling, use of public transport and active recreation. Access to and use of quality green open space is also shown to reduce mental fatigue and stress. Warm, safe and secure accommodation is an important factor in enabling people to function well in other areas of life including school and work. We also know places with good public amenities and assets encouraging people to get more involved in their communities, help strengthen social networks and build community resilience.

Our environment can also have detrimental effects on our health. Poor air quality exacerbates heart and lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The effect of air pollution can contribute to the premature death of people who already have serious illnesses. Housing quality is an important determinant of health. Poor housing conditions are associated with a wide range of health conditions, including respiratory infections, asthma, lead poisoning, injuries, and mental health. Cold homes are a major contributor to excess winter deaths.

What are the challenges?

  • The West of England area as a whole needs at least 105,000 new homes by 2036, as well as associated transport and other infrastructure. At least 30,000 of these new homes are likely to be built in South Gloucestershire.
  • Access to affordable housing for South Gloucestershire residents is a particular challenge. House prices and rental rates are high making it difficult for some to access stable housing. The affordable housing need has been identified as 32,200 homes across the West of England, but the estimated delivery under current government policy is only 17,100. This represents a gap of 15,100 affordable homes.
  • More than one in five private homes do not meet the ‘Decent Homes Standard’ – they contain significant hazards (most of which relate to excess cold or potential for residents to fall), are in a state of disrepair or do not have modern comforts.
  • 7% of all deaths in South Gloucestershire can be attributed to particulate air pollution and the wider impact on health and healthcare services is poorly understood.
  • 5% (10,797) of households in South Gloucestershire experience fuel poverty.
  • Only 35.8 % of people use green space for exercise/health reasons.
  • 169 people were killed or seriously injured on our roads between 2013 and 2015. Rates have changed very little over recent years.
  • People aged 65 and over represent half of the predicted population growth over the next 20 years. There is a critical need to plan positively for this group and it is estimated that around 12,700 specialist homes will be needed.

What do we want to achieve?

We want our neighbourhoods to be safe, sustainable and inclusive places which enable healthy choices, encourage active lifestyles and promote mental and emotional wellbeing and for our housing supply to meet the needs of all residents at every stage of life. We want the health impacts from poor air quality to be reduced through lower emissions and reduced exposure to pollutants.

How will the Health and Wellbeing Board take action?

Delivery of this area for collective action will be through:

  • The Health and Wellbeing Board acting as a systems leader and advocating for actions that maximise the potential of our built and natural environment to enable healthy lifestyles and to improve our physical and mental health.
  • Advocating for the development of housing, spatial planning and transport policy which will protect and promote health, and prevent and reduce health inequalities within South Gloucestershire and across the West of England.
  • Working with the South Gloucestershire Strategic Housing partnership to support delivery of the Housing Strategy and ensure the use of members’ resources is maximised to provide affordable, warm and safe homes, rented or owned, which meet people’s needs at every stage of life.

Health and Wellbeing Board members will:

  1. Develop a shared understanding amongst Board members and partners of the importance of the built and natural environment in our health and wellbeing, and how the Board can influence strategy and policy. Provide strategic direction to enable organisations to work together on issues relating to our environment and its impact on health.
  2. Develop local population intelligence and evidence about links between the built and natural environment (housing, transport, access to green space) and health to inform new development planned for South Gloucestershire and the West of England.
  3. Review and comment on emerging strategic policy documents (e.g. South Gloucestershire Local Plan, West of England Joint Spatial Plan and Joint Local Transport Plan) and advocate for measures that will protect and improve health and wellbeing and ensure that infrastructure meets the health and care needs of our current and future population.
  4. Raise awareness of the impacts of air pollution and poor air quality on health, and work with partners in South Gloucestershire and more widely to promote a consistent and unified approach to improve air quality and reduce health impacts associated with air pollution.

How will we measure our success?

  • Proportion of households in fuel poverty
  • Mean annual background concentration of PM 2.5 and PM 10 particulates
  • Proportion of mortality attributable to particulate air pollution
  • Proportion of people using green space for exercise/health reasons
  • Killed and seriously injured (KSI) casualties on our roads
  • Homelessness
  • Proportion and total number of affordable new homes built