The built and natural environment can be defined as “characteristics of a physical environment in which people live, work and play, including: schools, workplaces, homes, communities, parks/recreation areas and green space”. Evidence suggests that the environment in which we live is inextricably linked to our health across the life course. For example, the design of our neighbourhoods can influence physical activity levels, travel patterns, social connectivity, and mental and physical health and wellbeing outcomes. In some cases there are more direct links between the living environment and health outcomes; for instance, cold and damp housing can be directly linked to health outcomes such as injuries from falls and exacerbation of respiratory conditions.
PHE’s profile on the Built and Natural Environment in Trafford shows that overall Trafford is predominantly better or similar to England average on most indicators. However, the density of fast food outlets in Trafford is higher than the England average, which may reflect the concentration around Trafford’s sport’s venues. Also the rate of injuries due to falls in people aged 65 and over, which can be linked to issues around poor housing as well as unsafe outdoor environment, is higher in Trafford than England.
Examples where data are available at a smaller geographical level that local authority, and so where we can see differences within Trafford, include overcrowded households and fuel poverty.
Availability of suitable housing is an important social issue as living in overcrowded conditions can have impacts on both physical and mental health. Overcrowded is defined as having one or more rooms too few compared to the number of rooms ‘required’ based on the composition of the households and the relationships between the occupants.
The proportion of overcrowded households in Trafford (5.6%) is statistically significantly lower than the average for England (8.7%). However, within Trafford this ranges from 1.7% in Timperley ward to 15.4% in Clifford ward (ONS, 2011).
Around 10,327 (10.4%) Trafford households in fuel poverty (Wider Determinants of Health, 2018), similar to England average of 10.3%. Trafford ranks 2nd highest amongst its statistical neighbours on fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is strongly linked to cold homes. About 1 in 5 excess winter deaths are attributable to the coldest quarter of housing (Trafford had 63 excess winter deaths in 2018/19).