MPs have urged ministers to stipulate that health should be a material consideration in both planning and licensing law, as the Commons Health Committee has recommended in its report on public health, warning of widening health inequalities now councils have taken over more responsibility in this area at a time of cuts to budgets and front-line services.
The all-party committee considered evidence it would be ‘beneficial’ if health and well-being was treated as material consideration in planning applications.
Issues from the report include:
- it was still harder than it should be to influence planning applications for the benefit of health (para 139)
- the current planning process continues to be a major impediment (para 140)
The report concludes: ‘We urge the Government to be bold, and make good on its commitment to health in all policies, by enshrining health as a material consideration in planning and licensing law’ (para 140).
Ros Jervis director of public health at Wolverhampton City Council told MPs: It could make a real impact rather than us trying to fudge it with some of the other four licencing objectives that we have. They do not have to be onerous, there are some quick mini-health impact assessments, but they need to be systematic, so not ad hoc just when you can persuade them to be undertaken’.