Healthy place shaping

Creating communities where it is easy to be healthy.


The place people live in plays a key role in their health, affecting the choices they make, their relationships and their health behaviours. 

It means:

  • having a secure, healthy home
  • access to nature
  • good local employment
  • it is easy to eat well, be active and feel connected to friends, family and neighbours. 

What is 'healthy place shaping'?

Healthy place-shaping is one of the ways that we seek to deliver the council’s ambition to create ‘thriving communities for everyone in Oxfordshire’ – where people want to live, work and be part of something different.

Healthy place-shaping is a collaborative approach which aims to create sustainable, well designed, thriving communities where healthy behaviours are the norm and which provide a sense of belonging, identity and community.

This approach can apply to new developments and to the regeneration of existing communities and involves action across these three areas:

  • The built environment: shaping the built environment, public realm, green spaces and infrastructure at a local level to encourage healthy living
  • Community activation: helping local people to live healthier lives with the support of community groups, schools, and employers
  • New models of care: delivering new approaches to care closer to home and minimising hospital-based care.

Watch a video about healthy place shaping

Video transcript

The current health and social care system is under a huge deal of pressure. 

The population is growing, people are living longer and have more complex needs and health inequalities are widening. 

To help reduce this burden, focussed efforts must be shifted to proactive well-being rather than reactive once care is needed. 
The communities we live in, our housing, our built environment and our local economy all have a greater impact on how long and how well we live than medical care.

By shaping healthy places and preventing ill health we can reduce pressure on the health and social care system but also increase the economic prosperity and social wellbeing of the country.

A healthy place is somewhere individuals make healthy decisions easy fun and affordable. Where our social environments and networks make people feel supported and engaged.

Organisations and institutions work together to address the population's health. 

The physical and built environment is designed to support an independent, safe and active lifestyle.
Policies across the area create the right environment and conditions for good health.

As the housing, planning and growth authorities, district councils hold many of the levers key to healthy place-shaping.

Districts bring residents and local services together, work with businesses to create vibrant local economies drive good standards of living through housing provision and adaptations and ensure residents have access to green spaces and active travel through planning and work with partners to encourage wider adoption of relevant policies.

Through our roles in shaping healthy places, we can help people maintain happier, healthier more independent lifestyles and reduce the need to access burdened health services

Through joined-up services and collaboration across our local areas, we can really make a difference and deliver better lives

Our ambition is to create healthy communities which reflect the UK Green Building Council’s concept of a healthy neighbourhood (pdf format) 

These can help to deliver our commitment to climate action through supporting active travel, sustainable development, and the creation of healthy, sustainable food systems.

An update on progress with delivery of health place shaping across Oxfordshire was presented to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership Board which confirmed its commitment to support this programme as a key mechanism for delivering its strategic vision for Oxfordshire.

At a national level the Healthy Place Shaping principles we have developed and are using to reduce health inequality across the town were published in the Town & Country Planning Journal in April 2024 (pdf format, 1 MB)

Our partners

We are working with a wide range of partners on a programme of initiatives that will support residents to promote their health and wellbeing and to feel a sense of belonging to their community.