at the Local Plan meeting in February 2021.
The importance of Greenspace for mental health.
As you’re aware Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.
The UK government’s strategy on loneliness recognises the importance of Greenspaces and links urbanisation with loneliness and decreased well-being. £2.1 billion per year could be saved in health costs if every- one in England had good access to Greenspace, due to increased physical activity in those spaces.
Green environments are associated with reduced levels of depression, anxiety and fatigue and can enhance quality of life for both children and adults.
We gain physically too. People with better access to Greenspace enjoy a wide range of health benefits from lower levels of cardiovascular disease through to maintaining a healthier weight.
Greenspace can help to bind communities together, reduce loneliness, and mitigate the negative effects of air pollution, excessive noise, heat and flooding. Disadvantaged groups appear to gain a larger health benefit and have reduced socioeconomic-related inequalities in health when living in greener communities, so Greenspace and a greener urban environment can also be used as an important tool in the drive to build a fairer society.
As I am sure you’re aware, Public Health England has published a document called ‘Improving access to Greenspace A new review for 2020’
This ‘natural capital’ can help local authorities address local issues that they face, including improving health and wellbeing, managing health and social care costs, reducing health inequalities, improving social cohesion, and taking positive action to address climate change.
It states “We cannot continue to invest in the same service models of the past. We will not meet our mission with ‘business as usual’… Greater focus, and spending, is needed on prevention, not just cure… This includes recognising… how the wider environment we live in determines our health” – Prevention is better than cure.
The Local Plan should be underpinned by relevant health evidence, which Directors of Public Health have a role to play in providing. Future health needs, including access to Greenspace and the use of outdoor space for exercise/ health reasons, should be embedded within it. If the community’s health priorities are not reflected within the plan, it is likely to be difficult to ensure new development can properly support wellbeing needs.
So, my question is how does including the MiddleWick ranges into the Local Plan meet these requirements? Particularly when we are losing so much more Greenspace elsewhere too?
All the best, Grace Darke of Eco Colchester