What is a comprehensive plan?
Comprehensive (comp) plans are one of the primary tools used by local governments to achieve the community vision, regulate land uses and guide future investments. They typically include chapters on land use, housing, transportation, parks, community facilities and services, and implementation tools (e.g., zoning and other regulatory tools). Plans also include a future land use map which visualizes the content of the plan and shows what type of land uses are desired across the community on a parcel-by-parcel basis.
In the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan (metro) area, the Metropolitan Council coordinates local comp plans required by the 1976 Metropolitan Land Planning Act, state statute 473.
Health in comprehensive plans
Many of the problems and solutions to improving our health are place-based and affected by planning and the built environment. Approximately 60% of premature deaths can be attributed to factors that include our environment (e.g., the air we breathe), our ability to be physically active (e.g., does the neighborhood have safe sidewalks), our access to grocery stores and health care services (e.g., are goods and services close or is transit available), and our socioeconomic status. Comp plans can facilitate the connection between how we plan our communities and achieving our health goals.
MDH undertook two studies to review metro area comp plans for 23 health indicators.
- Comprehensive Plan Report #1 (PDF)
The first report focuses on 11 health indicators related to the regional planning process coordinated by the Metropolitan Council and provides recommendations to the Council for improving health outcomes in planning.
- Comprehensive Plan Report #2 (PDF)
The second report addresses 12 health indicators that are important for healthy planning but are beyond the scope of the regional planning process. The report provides recommendations for planners on improving health outcomes.
Healthy planning training
The Minnesota Healthy Planning Training was developed utilizing the findings and recommendations from the two MDH reports on health in comp plans. The Training is broken down into eight health goals to create a sustainable, healthy community. The training outlines 20 planning strategies for achieving those desired health goals. The recommended planning practices and strategies provide guidance for communities and planners, and can and should be adapted to fit each unique community.
Healthy planning "how-to" guide
The Minnesota Healthy Planning How-To Guide takes the content from the Training and expands upon the planning strategies. Each planning strategy includes a definition, method(s) for calculating the strategy, and multiple ways to implement the strategy in a comp plan. The Guide addresses how health can be included in every step of the planning process of creating a comp plan.
- American Planning Association: Planning and Community Health Research Center
- ChangeLab Solutions: Healthy Planning Resources
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Designing and Building Healthy Places
- MN Metro Healthy Comprehensive Plans Workgroup Checklist: Comprehensive Planning for a Healthy Community (PDF)
- U.S. EPA: Smart Growth