Reuniting Planning and Health

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Putting planning centre-stage

This section presents examples of council corporate structures within which public health and planning sit. A brief description is presented for each example.

These examples provide an initial snapshot of approaches different councils have adopted to fit local corporate priorities, statutory responsibilities and appointments (such as a Director of Public Health in England) and budgetary constraints. They include:

  • London Borough of Lewisham
  • Bristol City Council
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Sandwell Council
  • Gateshead Council
  • Glasgow City Council

Note that by including these examples we are not necessarily endorsing them as the most effective for achieving corporate objectives, including better health (they have not been evaluated). Nor can the diagrams below present the ‘glue’ of working relationships (formal or informal) on the ground, which can only be understood through further work. These relationships are often the bridge across departments to ensure that integration happens between council sections, not just  within them (see the collaborative working section in Resource 3).

London Borough of Lewisham

Lewisham has four directorates to carry out the council functions and deliver services. Planning comes under the Resources and Regeneration directorate while public health comes under Community Services. There is already some existing collaboration between planning and public health on hot food takeaways policies in the local development planning documents. 

Bristol City Council, South West of England

Bristol currently has four directorates with planning and public health sitting in different directorates of Place and Neighbourhoods, respectively. There is already some existing collaboration between public health and planning, indeed with a specialist in public health post embedded in the planning team. The council is currently undertaking a restructure.

Plymouth City Council, South West of England

Plymouth has three directorates with each directorate having four departments. Planning sits within the Place Directorate while public health sits within the People Directorate.

Sandwell Council, West Midlands

Sandwell Council has a number of directorates and services with planning and public health sitting in different areas of the structure. There is already some existing collaboration between planning and public health on hot food takeaways policies in the local development planning documents. Sandwell has produced a joint local plan with neighbourhood councils within the Black Country sub-region and therefore on the ground working structures between health and planning would be more complex. 

Gateshead Council, North East of England

The Council’s services are delivered through five groups each run by a Strategic Director. Within each of the five groups are a number of services, each run by a Service Director. Planning and public health sits under Development and Enterprise, and the Director of Public Health sits under the Head of Planning which is a Service Director level. A Place Shaping Group was established which met quarterly, chaired by the Strategic Director Development and Enterprise with representatives from across the council who ‘place shape’. The outputs feed into the Health and Wellbeing Board.

Glasgow City Council, Scotland

Glasgow has a number of directorates. Planning sits under the Development and Regeneration Services directorate while public health sits under Land and Environmental Services. Community planning responsibilities is a corporate function and therefore sits within the Corporate Services. There had been innovative work on planning and health in Glasgow as part of the Scottish Government’s ‘Equally Well’ initiative for which Glasgow was a test site. Public health responsibilities in local councils in Scotland differ in relation to England.