Working with the landscape to release more of its power for good is essentially what everyone at LUC has been doing since we started over fifty years ago. Evidence of the benefits to health and wellbeing from physical activity and contact with nature is growing exponentially, and health professionals, academics, researchers, designers, planners and policy makers are able to use this evidence to release funding and support programmes for positive change. Conversely, the social and economic cost of spiralling obesity rates (diabetes, heart disease) nationally and globally constitutes a crisis that requires a joined-up rapid response.
LUC is deeply engaged in this work, in all our services. We are tackling barriers to health and wellbeing across all our projects, from green infrastructure planning through to public realm, open space design, schools, universities, hospitals, and care homes. We are launching an internal research and development project to synthesise the knowledge within LUC with the wider drive to apply the life-course approach to health in our communities, building resilience and equity.
One example of our work in this area is Hounslow Active Spaces in which Hounslow Council brings together NHS funding, LUC designers, academic researchers, and local communities with the explicit aim to increase physical activity in children and their families. It is understood that primary prevention through early interventions (such as access to quality, free play) has the highest return of benefits to health and wellbeing across an individual’s life-course. As part of the research and development project, LUC is developing an assessment tool to evaluate and monitor the impacts of our play schemes on physical activity, health and wellbeing. This will help us to understand what works and what doesn’t, will build an evidence-base to support future proposals, and will allow us to contribute our findings to the Health and Wellbeing community.