Reuniting Planning and Health

Healthy Cities 21st Century

The financial case for better links between health and planning

Improving health is obviously important for the individuals and communities that are affected by unhealthy environments. But the cost of not acting is starting to mount, and this is an issue that should trouble everyone. For example, one study found that overweight and obesity costs Northern Ireland £370 million annually (see ‘The case for planning healthier communities – in numbers’).

In numbers: the case for planning healthier communities

£900 million

The amount that could be saved in the UK annually if everyone exercised as much as the suggested recommendations, such as walking for 20 minutes 5 days a week (RIBA, 2013)

40 per cent

The increase in trade that has been reported when places are made more attractive for walking (Living Streets, 2013)


The outcomes versus costs when modelling the health benefits of improving cycling infrastructure using ‘high-standard’ spatial planning (NICE, 2010)


The amount ecotherapy can save the public purse each year for every person with mental health problems that is referred (Mind, 2013)

£4 million +

The estimated mean annual health benefits that can be attributed to cycling levels in Glasgow (GCPH, 2013)

£223 million

The total annual health benefit to Copenhagen based on the number of people cycling (City of Copenhagen, cited in 2012)