Building For Life


Building for a Healthy Life is the latest edition of – and new name for – Building for Life 12.

Building for a Healthy Life (BHL) updates England’s most widely known and most widely used design tool for creating places that are better for people and nature. The original 12-point structure and underlying principles within Building for Life 12 are at the heart of BHL.

The new name reflects changes in legislation, notably the Environment Bill, as well as refinements which we’ve made to the 12 considerations in response to good practice and user feedback.

The new name also recognises that this latest edition has been written in partnership with Homes England, NHS England and NHS Improvement. BHL integrates the findings of the three-year Healthy New Towns Programme led by NHS England and NHS Improvement. Please see page 12 for more details about ‘Putting Health into Place’. (The expanded guidance was commissioned and paid for by NHS England and NHS Improvement.)

Many local authorities across the country have cited Building for Life 12 in their Local Plans and Supplementary Planning Documents. As BHL is the new name for Building for Life 12, local authorities can use BHL without having to rewrite existing policy documents.

In March 2018 the Government issued a draft update of NPPF which recommended LPAs use BFL12 to achieve better design outcomes. This was confirmed in 2019 when two further iterations of the NPPF cited Building for Life as a tool helpful for ‘assessing and improving design quality’ (page 39 paragraph 129). Homes England, the country’s national housing enabler, then adopted BFL12 as its principal test for whether proposals are of good enough quality to warrant land sales or investment support. It has now adopted BHL for the same.

This new iteration helps applications focus more on active travel, air quality and biodiversity. It is available as a free download below.

You can also visit the Built For Life website here.

Please call us on 020 3301 3856 if you would like to find out more.

How does Built for a Healthy Life affect existing communities?

Most people do not like change, and a new housing development in your area can be a cause for concern.  Will the development be unsympathetic to local the local area, or will it overstretch local facilities, and will there be any new homes for local people?


Building for a Healthy Life is an initiative by the housing industry which attempts to address these concerns, by setting standards which developers have to meet in order to achieve planning approval. As such it has been adopted by many local authorities for planning approval.


Homebuilders have to show that their sites have good pedestrian links to pre-existing communities and facilities so that people can walk to them – short car journeys are the only car journeys increasing in number. Walking is also vital for health.


You can find out more about your local Built for a Healthy Life housing development and how it meets the Building for a Healthy Life criteria on this website.  In short, a Built for a Healthy Life commended housing scheme aims to be a better neighbour.

Why should I consider buying a home on a Built for Life commended development?


If a new housing development is awarded a Built for Life commendation, the HomeBuilder will have had to meet 12 stringent conditions, ranging from integration with the local community infrastructure, to use of local design elements, and provision of adequate parking, and local amenities. Simply put, a Built for Life home should offer a higher quality of Life and be a better long term investment.

Building for a Healthy Life Publication


The book is available as a free download here:

Adding Character

Car Parking Treatment

Corner Turner

Share This