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A healthy city
About > Plan Structure > A Healthy City

Vision For Plymouth

A Healthy City

Where we are trying to get to


This is about enabling all of the city’s people to enjoy an outstanding quality of life, including happy, healthy, safe and fulfilled lives.

Quality of life is essential to health and wellbeing and relates to every facet of life. For example:

  • The lack of skills needed to secure productive employment
  • An unfit and poorly insulated home
  • Poor access to public open space
  • Not having access to affordable healthy food
  • Fear of crime
  • A lack of social interaction and sense of community

These factors all contribute to good physical and mental health and more positively functional families and communities, resulting where they are absent in significant disparities in individuals' health and wellbeing between neighbourhoods as well as high levels of child poverty across Plymouth.

A key challenge is to improve health and wellbeing in the city overall and particularly to reduce health inequalities. Healthy communities are places where basic needs of good housing and employment are met, and where the social and physical environment enables children to get the best start in life and older people's needs to be met. This drives change and supports high levels of aspiration amongst children and adults alike, whilst advocating a positive sense of community and social interaction.

Being in employment or running a business which is rewarding to the individual is also a key driver of improved health, and there is evidence of a link between higher average wages and better health. The aspirations of a city which is growing economically and inclusively are therefore closely aligned to those of a healthy city.

A glimpse at what a ‘healthy city’ might look like in 2034:

  • The conditions for good health and wellbeing exist across the entire city, with health inequalities significantly reduced and where people feel safe in the city and their neighbourhoods and homes.
  • Major improvements have been made into key issues such as mental health, healthy weight, substance misuse (including alcohol), integration of health and wellbeing and everyone has equal access to primary care services.
  • Children, young people and their families are living in a city which protects and promotes their wellbeing, which understands and takes account of the lifelong impacts of adverse experiences and traumas and where poverty is not tolerated.
  • All schools match or exceed the national average for Ofsted judgements and attainment levels.
  • School leavers and young people are equipped with the skills to improve their wellbeing and employment opportunities.
  • Older people are living independently for longer and there is a focus on self-care where people are well placed to manage their conditions and care for themselves wherever feasible, accessing support when needed. Plymouth is known for being a dementia friendly city.
  • Major regeneration programmes have been completed for North Prospect, Devonport and Millbay leaving a legacy of stronger communities, and communities facing challenges in the city have been enabled to improve their own neighbourhoods.
  • Targeted interventions focusing on wellbeing, as well as projects focused on cultural activity and the city's heritage, have significantly contributed to a healthier city.
  • Plymouth has the most active population in the south west with a mix of quality sports clubs, top class facilities, active schools and accessible community opportunities for physical activity and sport. Everyone has a decent home which suits their needs, with a well managed vibrant housing stock across all sectors.
  • Huge strides have been made in addressing fuel poverty through programmes and initiatives to address the cost, efficiency and climate change impact of energy in homes.
  • Each neighbourhood has good access to local employment opportunities, and a transport system that protects the environment improves air quality and encourages healthy lifestyles and connects communities.
  • Each neighbourhood has an area at its heart which brings people together and provides a range of opportunities and support for local people, including services close to home, access to healthy and affordable food, with a renewed focus on tackling food poverty and security, and good access to high quality open space.
  • Each neighbourhoods is a quiet, connected, community not dominated by road traffic but instead places where walking, cycling and catching the bus are the natural travel choices, delivering safer streets, less congestion, better air quality, improved public health and wellbeing and an improved local environment.
  • Plymouth uses its city centre, historic waterfront and other high profile locations to support the economic and social wellbeing of its sub region through the services it provides and through the business and trade opportunities for rural businesses, including farmers markets and promoting greater use of locally sourced food.
  • Plymouth is known as a centre for clinical excellence, where excellent health and wellbeing services are provided for all of its residents.
  • In recognising the importance of the physical environment to enable health and wellbeing, residents show great pride in the city's natural and built heritage, leading and supporting many initiatives to promote the city's history and its historic built and natural environment.
  • Plymouth is a city where there is a rich vein of community spirit exemplified by social connectedness and a vibrant volunteering culture which enables both increased self-esteem and improved mental and physical health for the volunteers as well as those who receive help.

What we are trying to achieve


People in Plymouth live in happy, healthy, safe and aspiring communities, where social, economic and environmental conditions and services enable choices that add quality years to life and reduce the gap in health and wellbeing between communities.

Improved health and wellbeing for the population demands a whole system approach that includes interventions in education, employment, transport, housing, green space and leisure and supporting local communities, as well as health and wellbeing services that effectively meet the needs of the population and deliver high value. This improvement will be delivered through a combination of integrated health and wellbeing and the implementation of four integrated commissioning strategies covering Wellbeing, Children and Young People,

Community Based Care and Enhanced and Specialised Care. It will be supported by the formulation of health-enabling local policy, collaborative efforts to address child poverty, spatial planning that explicitly addresses environmental inequalities and the effective use of public protection and regulation.

Wellbeing is the whole system consideration of a person’s life experiences rather than just their physical or mental health. Health, which is defined by the World Health Organisation as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, is an important component of wellbeing. This also considers purpose and meaning, life satisfaction and positive emotions and relationships. Wellbeing is important because evidence shows that people with high levels of wellbeing live longer, have more positive health behaviours and generally have better physical and mental health.

The relationship between health and wellbeing is not a simple one – not everyone who reports having good health also reports having high levels of wellbeing. The definition of health and wellbeing was a key consideration for the Health and Wellbeing Board when developing their vision for a Plymouth made up of 'Happy, Healthy, Aspiring Communities'.

Over the course of the plan period, demographic changes and increasing complexity of need will continue to put pressure on all vital front line services. The challenge for the public sector is to meet the volume and complexity of need and demand with a limited and often decreasing resource. A focus on prevention of ill health is evidenced to reduce the burden of disease and consequently reduce demand on front line services. In addition, a move towards a fully integrated population-based health and wellbeing system will provide an efficient and streamlined system that delivers high quality services and improved user experience.

Alongside creating and sustaining economic growth, the aim is to place residents and communities in a position to take advantage of the opportunities growth brings. Some areas of Plymouth have experienced consistently higher rates of economic inactivity and unemployment, including youth and long term unemployment, and low incomes. This often runs alongside other deep-rooted social-economic issues, all of which are key factors in people's health and wellbeing. The policies set out below will help to address health inequalities, tackle child poverty and support healthy lifestyles and therefore allow all residents to take advantage of economic growth delivered in the city.


To integrate health and wellbeing, promote choice and personal responsibility, formulate health-enabling local policy and develop good quality local services. This will be achieved by:

  1. Delivering solutions and creating environments which address the wider determinants of health and wellbeing and make healthy choices available.
  2. Reducing health and wellbeing inequalities and the burden of chronic diseases in the city.
  3. Delivering the best health, wellbeing and social outcomes for all people, and reducing and mitigating the impact of poverty, especially child poverty.
  4. Helping ensure that children, young people and adults feel safe and confident in their communities, with all people treated with dignity and respect.
  5. Building strong and safe communities in good quality neighbourhoods with decent homes for all, health-promoting natural and built environments, community facilities and public spaces and accessible local services, alongside supporting restoration of natural habitats and ecosystems.
  6. Enabling people of all ages to play an active role in their community and engage with arts and culture and other activities to promote social cohesion and good mental health and wellbeing.
  7. Providing a safe, efficient, accessible and health-enabling transport network which supports freedom of movement and active travel and promotes low carbon lifestyles that are beneficial to physical and mental health.
  8. Providing vibrant, effective and modern education settings that enable children and young people to develop as active citizens in the community and enjoy a good quality of life in a dynamic and modern economy, and delivering quality lifelong learning which is available to everyone and can be tailored to quality employment and social opportunities.
  9. Ensuring people get the right care from the right people at the right time to improve their health, wellbeing and social outcomes.
  10. Making Plymouth a centre of clinical excellence and innovation to benefit the sustainability and growth of the medical and health care sectors in the city and to create education and employment opportunities.

How we will know if we've been successful

A. People in Plymouth have the best start to life and improved health, increased life expectancy, and a better quality of life, helping to reduce the gap in health inequalities.

B. More people taking care of themselves.

C. More residents are contributing to and being involved in their community.

D. People of Plymouth are well housed, live in good quality, well looked after neighbourhoods where they feel safe and happy.

E. Good quality and sustainable health and wellbeing services for people who need them, whether they are public services or care in the community.

View our progress against the primary indicators on the delivery of the Plymouth Plan on the DATA Plymouth website.

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