Planning, land use and development can all be used to improve health, if done properly, members of Swindon Borough Council’s health and wellbeing board were told.

Manager of planning policy at Euclid Street, Phil Smith, told the meeting that his team were updating Swindon’s Local Plan - a legal document allocating land to various purposes, and setting standards for development and controls, and he wanted to do more to use it to improve health,

He said: “We can use planning to improve health and other aspects of citizens lives in many ways. We’re looking at reviewing the Local Plan and looking at policies on open spaces, on air quality, on the impact of climate change. We’ve had a lot of help form the health teams here at the council.”

Mr Smith added that the planning system was already used to promote active lifestyles and the use of walking and cycling, and use of recreation and sporting facilities and spaces.

Asked by Labour group leader Councillor Jim Grant why there wasn’t a specific policy regarding addressing climate change he said: “Most of the sustainability aspects of the Local plan are about that - transport and travel, the design of buildings, even which way they face, are all part of that - but if we made it one policy it would be very lengthy.

"It might be that we should signpost it more

Sue Wald the head of adults social care asked about childhood obesity and whether it was possible to prevent fast food shops being sited near secondary schools.

Mr King said: “We have a rule against those being within 400 metres of secondary school in the draft local plan.

“That’s been successful in a number of authorities who have it in their plan - though Nottingham has been challenged by the inspector over lack of evidence.

“We’ll be hoping to defend the policy through the inspection process.”

The report to the board says the current Local Plan is " relatively silent on fast food outlets" and " too restrictive policy could undermine the viability and vitality of local centres.

"It is recommended further research is under taken to understand the issue within the Swindon context."