Physical environment: policy context

The Place Standard is an innovative new tool to support the delivery of high quality places, which has been developed in partnership by Scottish Government (Architecture & Place), NHS Health Scotland and Architecture & Design Scotland. The purpose of the Place Standard is to ensure that all places in Scotland nurture the wellbeing of the people within them. It will do this by articulating what makes a good, sustainable place and by supporting actions and facilitating processes which deliver places of the highest quality.

The main drivers for the development of the Place Standard were Good Places Better Health (an ongoing initiative launched in 2008 as the Scottish Government's strategy on health and the environment), and Creating Places, a 2013 Scottish Government policy statement on architecture and place. These resources also include additional recommendations and information to help ensure that people in Scotland benefit from living and working in quality sustainable places.

Both community planning and spatial planning have vital roles in shaping the physical environment. Community planning is the process through which public agencies work with communities to plan and deliver services. Spatial planning in Scotland is now shaped by Scottish Planning Policy which sets out national planning policies which reflect Scottish Ministers' priorities, and the National Planning Framework which provides a framework for the spatial development of Scotland.

Globally, the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008) (7.4 MB) emphasises the positive impact on health equity, physical and mental health and wellbeing that a well-designed environment can bring, especially in an urban setting. There are also broader and more long-term environmental threats, notably climate change. To contribute towards tackling this, the Scottish Government has set a target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

Scotland's housing strategy is set out in 'Homes Fit for the 21st Century', and addresses supply, choice and quality, all of which have important implications for health and wellbeing. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 includes measures to improve housing quality, particularly in the private rented sector. The Commission on Housing and Wellbeing set up by Shelter Scotland has published a range of recommendations on housing, to which the Scottish Government has published a response.