Good planning for good food - using planning policy for local and sustainable food

Spatial planning directly affects the food system, including decisions about protecting land for farming, planning permission for food retailing and waste management facilities, and encouraging urban food production. This report explores how local authorities and communities can use planning policy and decisions to create more local and sustainable food systems.

09/02/2011
Planning
39pp - 2011

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The role of planning in creating healthy and sustainable environments, including the food system, is increasingly being recognised. The American Planning Association, for example, has a policy which incorporates all parts of the food system from production to food waste, and planners are able to take courses on planning and food for their qualifications. In the UK, the London Plan specifically notes the need to be in-line with the London Food Strategy, and there is explicit reference to “land for food” and encouragement for both commercial and non-commercial food growing.

Historically, our towns and cities have been built around the supply and distribution of food. Today, planning can affect the food and farming system in a number of ways, so this report - based on the findings of research, examples of what is being achieved locally, and the findings of a seminar with planning, food and community development professionals - focuses on what planners and associated professionals could do to help create a more sustainable food and farming system. For example, they can:

  • Protect and increase both the number and the diversity of types of food retail outlets – such as small shops and markets - locally, and within easy walking distance of communities, or by public transport.
  • Create and protect food growing spaces in and around a locality. Allotments, community growing spaces and a range of other under-utilised public and private space could be used to increase the availability of healthy and sustainable food by expanding the space allocated for food growing. Such spaces can also enhance the quality of productive green spaces in neighbourhoods thereby contributing to biodiversity.
  • Discourage food waste, and stimulate productive and/or environmentally benign ways of using unavoidable food waste.
  • Support jobs in the food and farming sector by encouraging small- and medium-sized food enterprises (SMEs), such as markets and on-site farm shops, and local and regional distribution infrastructure.

We acknowledge that planners alone cannot redress all the damage to sustainable development currently being done by the food and farming system and will need to work closely with other professionals in health, environment, economic development and property development. However, local authority planners play a vital role by helping to create a policy framework that will support sustainable food system locally and also by integrating sustainable food into local planning and development decision making.


Report contents

1. Introduction

  • About Sustain
  • About this report
  • Our food and agriculture system
  • Food and the planning system
  • What planning can do to improve our food
  • Current trends in planning

2. Food, planning and sustainable development

  • Health and community well-being
  • Access to food shops
  • Diverse food retail environments
  • Community food growing
  • The Environment
  • Land for growing food
  • Food waste
  • Biodiversity
  • Economic development
  • Farm businesses
  • Regionally focused and localised distribution networks
  • Small and independent retailers

3. Conclusions and recommendations 

  • Planning policy
  • Planning decisions
  • Collecting evidence
  • Working with other professionals and with the public

Sources of more information 

  • Planning organisations
  • Green infrastructure and food growing
  • Healthy urban planning
  • Food waste
  • Food retail

Appendix 

 

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Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.