The benefits of appropriately designed green spaces for health are well documented and widely recognised through international research. It is confirmed by the WHO, International, National and Local Government, and by a wide range of Charities and Organisations.
The scientific evidence demonstrates the benefit of delivering and using well designed urban spaces to address a range of conditions:
Physical health: Conditions and co-morbidities related to Obesity, CHD, Type 2 Diabetes, Strokes, some Cancers,
Mental Wellbeing: Stress, Anxiety and Depression,
Social Capital and cohesion; building social networks, and personal relationships
Environmental Risk Factors: Noise, Pollution and those related to Climate Change
As long ago as 2009 The Mayor of London’s Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives task force recommended the development of a standard “to measure and capture the health benefits of parks, to compliment the Green Flag Scheme”. The Landscape Health Assessment (LHA) offers a unique vehicle to identify and celebrate Flagship Green Spaces, Parks and New Developments and to offer the following vehicles for health.
- To provide a basis to identify and celebrate existing health opportunities in urban spaces, and remove barriers to health.
- To identify both immediate cost effective opportunities to enhance health benefits, and to develop longer term enhancements; meeting health based aims and objectives set by local government and the National Health Service, targeting specific medical conditions, and guiding management, budgets and future expenditure.
- As a basis for the design of spaces, parks and green infrastructure for health and wellbeing; alongside environmental and economic benefit.
- As a means of assessing new development proposals for health and wellbeing; often used alongside Health Urban Development Guidance and Health Impact Assessment, completing the bases for sustainable development in terms of its Social, Economic and Environmental dimensions.
- Based upon scientific evidence, the LHA toolkit is regularly updated in the light of ongoing research and new findings. These are interpreted in terms of landscape elements and characteristics, and ensure that in terms of consultancy, training, assessment, design and the identification of related products and services, Health Parks provides current and up to date advice to Clients and Partners.
In delivering these benefits Health Parks offer the following services:
The Landscape Health Assessment Toolkit offers an objective, evidence based methodology, to identify existing health benefits, and to guide opportunities for enhancement. In embracing both spaces and the surrounding urban context, it can indicate issues related to active travel, accessibility and provision, as well as the quality of individual parks and spaces for health and wellbeing; all fundamental to creating a context for healthy lifestyle choices.
The LHA has within it the following attributes:
- It uses accepted impact assessment methodology
- It is based upon up to date scientific evidence base
- It is grounded in objective analysis of landscape elements assessed against Key Health Criteria emanating from the evidence base
- It is operated by trained landscape practitioners
- It offers consistency and replicability across existing and proposed landscapes and urban environments; and as such represents a sound measure of comparison
- It embraces physical health, mental wellbeing, social cohesion, environmental risk factors and climate change.
The LHA includes the following steps:
- Stage 1: Landscape Assessment.
Using a detailed site survey checklist the assessment identifies the landscape character and landscape elements within parks, spaces and the surrounding urban realm, or as illustrated within new development proposals.
- Stage 2: Analysis.
An analysis is undertaken which allows an interpretation of the landscape character and elements against the Key Health Criteria identified from the medical evidence base. The analysis identifies the current health status of the area in question, and indicates potential opportunities for enhancement.
- Stage 3: Reporting.
The conclusions are set out in a Report. This identifies existing health status, immediate cost effective interventions and longer term opportunities for enhancement.
- Stage 4: Presentation.
The Report is supported by sketch plans and proposals identifying opportunities for enhancement.
These findings can be considered and prioritized by the client, and form the basis for detailed planning, design and implementation.
Community participation and engagement can form an important part of the assessment. Such participation can identify local priorities, help refine recommendations, and encourage involvement during implementation and future management. Parks and spaces are there for the community, and their participation can contribution greatly to the success of each project.
It is important to celebrate Parks, Places and Spaces which deliver the health benefits associated with Green Space; Physical Health, Mental Wellbeing, Social Interaction, Environmental Risk Factors and Climate Change, and in so doing encourage the health and wellbeing of local communities. As long ago as 2009 The Mayor of London’s Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives task force recommended the development of a standard “to measure and capture the health benefits of parks, to compliment the Green Flag Scheme”. The Landscape Health Assessment (LHA) offers a unique vehicle to identify, celebrate and where required create Flagship Health Parks. Inquiries for the use of the LHA to identify and celebrate and create such parks can be made through this website.
Detailed Design. Where bespoke services are required, building upon the LHA model and working in conjunction with its sister company Tisdall Associates Ltd, a Registered Practice of the Landscape Institute, Health Parks is able to offer detailed design services to identify opportunities to create healthy parks, spaces and green infrastructure; be it within the existing urban realm or associated with new developments.
Planning and Implementation: In delivering health based projects, Health Parks can bring together a team of professionals to provide the necessary skills, abilities and experience to deliver a successful outcome “on the ground”. Such expertise can include Planning, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture, Transport and Engineering, as well as Arboriculturalists and Ecologists, to provide outcomes which embrace design quality, amenity, environment and health within an holistic approach to the creation of healthy sustainable communities.
Project Management: Where a clients design team is available, Health Parks can provide the necessary guidance to the design and planning team to deliver projects which address identified health opportunities.
The participation of the local community in the creation of healthy environments is fundamental to their success, and an important aspect of delivering healthy environments. Engagement through the assessment, and participation with the planning and design process can provide a sense of ownership, strengthening social cohesion, and increase the future success of the project. Working with partners, Health Parks can co-ordinate Public Consultation with local residents. The involvement of the local community in the evolution of the proposals and their implementation may also develop new interest for residents, provide opportunities for education, group work and volunteering, as well as potential skills training perhaps enhancing future employment opportunity. The participation of schools can provide excellent opportunity for education, both during the inception of the scheme, and through its ongoing use. The involvement of the local community in the enhancement of the environment can be linked to developing awareness of the benefits of physical activity, and also provide increased opportunities for active recreation.
Partnering with Local Government, the NHS, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Public and Private organisations, Development Companies and Housing Associations, Charities, and Local Community Groups and Design Practices, Health Parks can help identify and deliver health and wellbeing within urban and rural environments, developing Urban Space Health Strategies for both existing areas and new developments, benefiting both existing communities and future residents.
As an experienced speaker, and with qualifications and experience in Public Health and Landscape Design, Richard Tisdall, as Director of Health Parks, has contributed to a wide range of Conferences and events. He is happy to share his insights to raise awareness, to develop understanding and for those groups and companies involved in the delivery of places and spaces “On the Ground” to explore and identify opportunities within of this important area of health
Delivering health “On the Ground” brings together an appreciation of Public Health, an understanding of the Key Health Criteria and their interpretation in terms of landscape elements and characteristics, but also the use of appropriate products and services provided by partners. Health Parks is happy to partner with companies, service providers and charities to explore opportunities in this area and promote health and wellbeing in rural and urban environments.