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Appendix 1

Health Impact Assessment Screening Guide

The issues and questions included in this screening assessment can be used as a guide to undertake an HIA for Major proposals as required by LDP Policy HC1. They may also be used to consider whether non-major proposals should include HIA.

The issues and questions should also assist the HIA scoping stage. In many cases, these may be adequate as a basis for an HIA submission to accompany a planning application. However, the scoping exercise may also determine that a more detailed HIA is required.

The issues and questions raised are purely to assist consideration of potential health impacts and should be tailored to take account of the development proposed. The issues/questions are not exhaustive and, conversely, not all will be of relevance to all proposals.

HIA matters can be considered as part of any Pre-Application Discussion (PAD) with the Planning Service.
Whilst HIA primarily relates to Policy HC1, health and wellbeing will be influenced by many policies in the Belfast LDP Plan Strategy (May 2023) and applicants should also consider the LDP’s overall aims and policy objectives.
Note that other assessments or statements may be required to address other policy provisions in the LDP Plan Strategy.

The Planning Service’s Application Checklist sets out the information that is required when a planning application is submitted.

 Theme Health Issue(s) Key Question
Accessibility and Inclusive Design Good design means that everyone has the potential to benefit from a building, place and environment. Conversely, poor accessibility can exclude many groups, having an impact on physical and mental health.

How will the proposals promote inclusive design to ensure the development is accessible to all? This may include particular age groups and those with disabilities or particular needs.

Cross reference may be made to the design and access statement where relevant.

Open and green space

Access to open space has a positive impact on health and wellbeing. Living close to areas of green space, parks, woodland, and other open space can improve physical and mental health regardless of social background.

Access to nature and biodiversity contributes to
mental health and wellbeing. New development can improve existing, or create new,
habitats or use green design solutions such as green roofs (living walls) to enhance biodiversity.

Does the development proposal encourage and promote healthy play and exercise?

Do the proposals include open space areas to meet the needs of occupants?

Are there opportunities to enhance connectivity to existing nearby open and green space areas?

Will the development result in the loss of open space?

Does the proposal contribute to nature conservation and biodiversity?

Public services Population increases associated with new developments and other demographic changes can increase pressure on public services which are important for both physical and mental health (e.g., education, health, cultural and leisure services).

Could the proposal improve access to local services (e.g., through an improved walking route)?

Are there opportunities for enhancement of local services?

How accessible is the site to public transport?

Physical activity

Regular physical activity has been shown to mitigate the health impacts of obesity as well as reduce the risk of various conditions including cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It has been shown to benefit mental health.

Opportunities for physical activity can exist within a building itself, for example welcoming and accessible stairways can offer an alternative to the lift.

Good, well-lit routes to local shops and services can encourage people to walk or cycle short trips and connect to other walking routes and cycle lanes. Open space, amenity space and play space are also important in encouraging physical activity and as places of relaxation.

How will the development promote physical activity (internally and/or externally)?

What are the opportunities and/or barriers?

What facilities for cyclists will be available (including nearby cycle routes as well as cycle storage)?

Are there any barriers to accessing open space or sports centres locally?

What open space/play space/amenity space will be provided on-site?

Are there opportunities to create or improve access to greenways and other recreational/active travel facilities?

Environmental Quality

Quality of physical environment is vitally important for human health is Important to protect communities from materially harmful development.

Will the proposal:

  • Enhance land, air, and water quality?
  • Enhance pollution prevention and control?
  • Create any adverse noise impacts, or address potential noise impacts in the locality?
  • Create any lighting issues?
  • Provide adequate ventilation?

Reducing crime

Crime, and the fear of crime, can have a significant impact on a victim’s or witness’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Designing out crime can be an effective way of preventing or reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, for example ensuring that streets are well-lit and receive “passive surveillance”.

How has the development “designed out” crime?

How will anti-social behaviour and nuisance be minimised?

Will the proposal lead to a concentration of uses in the local area that could give rise to anti-social behaviour?

Healthy Food

A poor diet is associated with obesity in younger children, and obesity, chronic illness, and early death in adults.

Opportunities for food growing can range from balconies and gardens to the provision of allotments, private and community gardens. These promote access to healthy food and can help to improve physical activity better diets and social benefits.

In what ways has the development considered providing opportunities for growing food?

Have other measures to increase access to healthy food been considered?

Employment and Training

Work is good for physical and mental health and wellbeing. Job security and simply having a job can increase health and wellbeing as well as make it easier to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Maximising opportunities for training and employment for local people can have positive health outcomes.

Will training or apprenticeships for local people be provided?

Will any other measures be taken to increase employment for local people?

Social inclusion

Inclusive neighbourhoods are those that encourage members of a community to interact with each other. This can reduce social isolation which can be a trigger for depression, anxiety, and other conditions. Developments should consider how they can integrate with the existing environment and communities and contribution to social inclusion.

Community facilities can be particularly important in promoting social inclusion as well as offering a range of valuable services. If a community facility is proposed to be lost, its impact on the community should be considered.

How will the proposal promote the integration of existing and new communities and promote social interaction?

Will the proposal result in the loss of a community asset?

What alternatives for existing provision exist?

How far away is alternative provision, and how accessible is it?

Climate change adaptation and mitigation

Developments can exacerbate the impacts of climate change for example increasing urban heating or flood risk. This can have negative health implications for the population, including for the most vulnerable.

Urban greening such as tree planting, green roofs and walls and soft landscaping can help prevent summer overheating and reduce the adverse impacts of heavy rainfall.

Does the proposal consider the influence it can have on the microclimate to ensure it mitigates the impacts of climate change?

Is the proposal in a flood risk area, or will it lead to an increase in surface water run-off? If so, how will this be mitigated?

Does the design help to address the urban heat island effect or extreme weather events?

Are other green and blue infrastructure measures provided to address climate change?

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