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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Planning, Local Social interconnectivity and your Personal Health.

Where we live very much affects our health. Not just an issue off too many cars polluting our area, or a local incinerator, or second hand/passive smoking issues – yet how we access that which is around us and how this affects out health.

When the ‘local shop’ is more than several miles away we tend to use a car. If the local post office, school and college is some distance (what we consider out of walking distance) we either get the bus or use a car/taxi. For many people when access is ‘too far away’ or cost prohibitive – we reduce our use of the facilities and sadly for many they will discontinue use altogether.

Physiologically: With less walking, less carrying, less interaction – we become more sedentary and this leads the way to a declining state of personal state. All our main amenities should be within walking distance if we are to maintain good health in the local and good healthy community connections.

Psychologically: It goes without saying as one becomes disconnected from our local links; we become somewhat mentally lacking stimulation and eventually becoming withdrawn. Social disconnection is certainly not healthy and the ‘feeling of being isolated’ will lead to an inevitable mental condition of stress which leaves us vulnerable to worsening health conditions.

Gaining access is very much a planning issue now. It is a pointless endeavour to put a housing development on one side of a busy road and the shops, post office, chemists, schools, colleges, senior citizen facilities, bars etc. on the other side of the road. Such divides play on our minds and serves no positive community or personal benefit.

Designing our communities so that they easily interlink with easy walking distance to everywhere of immediate importance is vital for today and tomorrows towns. Rebuilding the infrastructure is no small feat given the majority of the world is in a serious economic depression.

Using the Japanese design principle of ‘getting it right first time around’ is important for planners, councils, builders and community groups.
• So how can you improve the walking access everywhere?
• Can Planning Aid give you some input on improving your locality?
• Will housing co-operatives a stronger proponent of integrating good spatial design, local amenities and infrastructure?
• Consider how you can improve ease of access in your area?
• What is lacking and what is vital to support reconnect communities?

All Government agencies, Local Authorities, Health Services, Planners, and Designers etc. will all link together more closely in time and develop joint proposals for increasing health in our communities. What can you do to get involved?