Public Health England and the Institute of Health Equity have released a new extensive report on why healthy High Streets matter to overall public health and what actions need to be taken to ensure they exist. The report says that local High Streets should be viewed "as existing community assets that can make communities more resilient" (page 63).

According to the report, a healthy High Street is a significant community asset if it:

  • is accessible to all members of the community
  • has clean air
  • is safe to cross
  • has a retail offer that is supportive of health
  • makes people feel safe and comfortable

The report draws on over 300 references and is a very useful source of data on issues relating to health. Although much of what it says about High Streets will not be new to those actively engaged in place management, the access to health data in this context, the fact that the report is from Public Health England, and the crystal clear recommendations to health professionals to get involved in High Streets make it well worth reading.

The report notes that healthy High Streets are about more than just retail, and that interventions that purely focus on retail "will struggle to succeed" (page 25). The report emphasises the need for effective collaboration between stakeholders in the design and use of High Streets.

The report makes a series of recommendations around the benefits to health that arise from diversity on the High Street, green and blue infrastructure, traffic calming, street furniture and crime prevention and security (see diagram above for summary extract).

There are a number of case studies and examples included in the report and a separate Practice Resource Summary is available.