EDG and Building for a Healthy Life

The Building for a Healthy Life design tool has replaced the previous version Building for Life 12, which was the original 12-point self-assessment tool for creating better places. This latest edition has been written in partnership with Homes England, NHS England and integrates findings of the three-year Healthy Towns Programme.

Building for a Healthy Life is a Design Code to help people improve the design of new and growing neighbourhoods. BHL has been created to allow a broad range of people to use it easily – from members of a local community, local councillors, developers to local authorities – allowing those involved in a proposed new development to focus their thoughts, discussions and efforts on the things that matter most when creating good places to live.

Organised across three headings, 12 considerations are presented to help those involved in new developments to think about the qualities of successful places and how these can be best applied to the individual characteristics of a site and its wider context. These three headings will guide you from macro through to micro scale considerations. Each consideration is illustrated with clear written and visual prompts helping you to identify good practice and avoid common pitfalls. BHL can help local communities to set clear expectations of new developments by offering a series of easy to understand considerations that will also allow local communities to more easily identify the qualities (or deficiencies) of development proposals.

To help integrate this design tool into the Essex Design Guide the table below outlines the relationship between Building for a Healthy life, the National Planning Policy Framework, the National Design guide and the Essex Design Guide itself.


 Integrated Neighbourhoods National Planning Policy Framework National Design Guide Essex Design Guide
Natural connections  91a, 102c and e; 1-4d; 127b; 127f  B3; M1; M2; N1; R3 Permeability and legibility
Walking, cycling and public transport 20c; 91a; 91c; 127e B1; B3; M1; R3 Pedestrian and cycle movement
Transport and active travel
 Facilities and services 102; 103 B1; B3; N1; P3; U1; U3 Services
Homes for everyone 60-62 B1; B2; U2; U3 Mixed tenure homes
Distinctive places: Making the most of what's there   
Making the most of what’s there 122d; 127c; 127d; 153b; 184 C1; C2; I1; B2; R3 Historic CharacterisationAppropriate Use of Design MaterialsUnderstanding ContextBuilt Context
A memorable character 122d; 127c; 127d C2; I1; I2; I3; B3 Essex CharacterCharacter and Context
Well defined streets and spaces 91a B2; M2; N2; N3; P1; P2; H2; L3 The Key Principles of Public Open Space
Easy to find your way around  91b; 127b I1; M1; M2; U1 LegibilityMovement
Streets for all   
Healthy streets 91b; 102c and e;110a-d M1; M2; N3; P1; P2; P3; H1; H2 Transport and Active Travel | Essex Design Guide
Cycle and car parking 101e; 127f; 105d B2; M1; M3 Cycle FacilitiesAccommodating the car
Green and blue infrastructure 20s; 91b; 91c; 127f; 155; 170d; 174 C1; B3; M1; N1; N2; N3; P1; P3; H1; R3; L1 Green Infrastructure, Access to Open Green and Blue Spaces
Back of pavement, front of home 127a-b; d; f M3; H3; L3 Successful Criteria for Public Open Spaces, Specific Feature Design Guidance


Generally 7; 8; 124; 125; 126; 127; 130 15:16:17:20-29: 31-32 EDG and Manual for Streets, Streets and Roads


Using the tool as a discussion tool 39; 40-42; 125; 128; 129    

Page updated: 25/08/2021

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