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P93 Ageing well in rural communities: the contribution of neighbourhood planning in England
  1. S Buckner1,
  2. A Barnes2,
  3. H Jordan2,
  4. C Lee1,
  5. C Mattocks1,
  6. E Oliver3,
  7. D Pope4,
  8. L Lafortune1
  1. 1Cambridge Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK
  4. 4Department of Public Health and Policy, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK


Background Recent years have seen a proliferation of efforts globally to make cities places that foster healthy ageing. Despite exceptions, initiatives to promote the age-friendliness of rural communities have lagged behind. Identifying mechanisms that can enhance ageing well in rural settings and contribute to reducing inequalities is vital, particularly as these communities are experiencing rapid population ageing. This paper presents findings from a study that explored the potential of Neighbourhood Planning (NP) in England to generate processes and deliver outcomes in rural communities that support ageing well. NP is a participatory planning process that involves communities taking an active role in shaping their area.

Methods A scoping review was carried out to identify the existing evidence on NP and ageing and health in rural areas. Rural communities at an advanced stage of NP were mapped using QGIS to assess national coverage, including in relation to area deprivation and population age profile. All contactable communities were sent a questionnaire designed to identify those where NP focused on ageing-related issues. Six communities with an age-friendly focus in NP were selected as case studies where interviews and focus groups with stakeholders and residents and documentary analysis were carried out.

Results No literature that combined a focus on NP and ageing and rural settings was found. There were 572 rural communities at an advanced stage of NP. Mapping highlighted gaps in their distribution across rural England that broadly coincided with local authority districts with older age profiles and greater deprivation. The survey response was n=75/557. Respondents mentioned as ageing-related priorities in NP meeting older residents’ housing needs (n=30), supporting older residents’ health and wellbeing (n=23), and improving transport (n=17). The survey informed the case studies. Findings from the latter indicated the potential of NP to result in age-friendly improvements in the physical environment, e.g. age-appropriate housing and improved walkways. They also highlighted various ways in which the very process of NP can support ageing well, e.g. by generating involvement of older people that can strengthen social connectedness. A detailed Theory of Change was developed of ways in which NP can support ageing well in rural communities.

Conclusion This study examined an under-researched mechanism for turning rural settings into places where people can age well. As well as highlighting the potential of NP to support the creation of age-friendly rural communities, it has delivered an evidence-informed Theory of Change that can be tested further.

  • age-friendly communities
  • rural ageing
  • Neighbourhood Planning

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