One of our partner organisations has highlighted the obvious and significant impact upon health – physical and mental health – which planning and other aspects of local policy can have on individuals and groups. This has become more obvious to all of us over the last two years, with exceptional restrictions and guidance being put in place for everyone.
The government guidance on the need to undertake HIA as a key element in public policy is clear. It is good practice.
In our local context, the absence of good communication between the local authorities and local residents is a potential contributory factor to stress, ill-health and a sense of powerlessness. For those with existing conditions or those who are more vulnerable due to poverty or disabilities, the impact is all the greater.
We invite comment – particularly in the context which has raised the profile of this issue – which relates to the significant amount of major new developments supported by Folkestone and Hythe District Council. The extent to which planning policy and major decisions are underpinned by HIA is of particular public interest.
Update: a series of well-reasoned and well-informed comments have been added on this topic – see below.
A summary document containing some of the key arguments in favour of a Health Impact Assessment has been compiled by a member of the Leas Residents Action Group – which has been pressing for better communication. The document can be downloaded by clicking here