MPs to investigate urban planning's role in boosting children’s wellbeing
Thursday, November 16, 2023
An inquiry is being launched by MPs into how planning, building and urban design can “enhance the health and wellbeing of children and young people”.
It has been launched by the House of Commons levelling up, housing and communities committee and will investigate how children and young people use outside public spaces.
A focus of the inquiry will be on ensuring children “have the freedom and ability to move around their neighbourhoods and have the opportunity for unsupervised play”.
Charities, children’s rights groups, health professionals, local authorities and urban planners are being urged to give evidence by 2 January next year.
Evidence sessions are expected to start in the spring.
MPs are looking for examples of local policy and practice in cities, towns and rural areas to improve the local environment for children and young people and help them “enjoy active outdoor lifestyles and engage with others”, said committee chair and Labour MP for Sheffield South East Clive Betts.
“It’s important for children and young people’s mental and physical health that they have access to spaces to play and to socialise,” he said.
“In our inquiry, we want to find out more about how children and young people experience outdoor spaces in towns, cities and rural areas across England."
Betts added: “Planning and development should not be indifferent to the interests of young people. Stories of developers disregarding promises to deliver earmarked spaces for children highlight flaws in the current approach to the built environment.
“The committee’s inquiry will want to examine how children’s needs are being met by the current planning process.”
Last month Cardiff became the first city in the UK to be awarded ‘child-friendly’ status by Unicef. This follows policies and measures in the South Wales city to improve children’s rights.
Unicef found 700 opportunities available for children and young people to take part in decision making in Cardiff. Almost 3,000 have accessed 90 free activities through the its ‘Passport to the City’ initiative.
In May this year research by think tank New Philanthropy Capital warned that young people in low-income households are likely to be hit hardest by climate change, through pollution in urban areas and low quality housing.
It called on charities and funders to ensure they embed strategies in their operation to improve the environment for young people.