Local authorities should actively protect residents from traffic-related pollution during the planning stage of developments, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Developers should show planning authorities that they are actively looking to protect local people from the effects of air pollution, the institute said.
It added that schools and care homes should not be sited in areas of high pollution levels to reduce the impact on these vulnerable groups. It recommends that local authorities look at building designs and consider how buildings and other physical barriers will affect the distribution of air pollution.
More landscaping features could be introduced to help mitigate air pollution – such as trees and vegetation in open spaces, or green roofs – and provide recreational facilities for walking, cycling and exercise.
These recommendations are contained within NICE’s new quality standard, which also says local authorities should be identifying how they can reduce traffic-related pollution and promote zero- or low-emission transport.
Professor Gillian Leng, NICE deputy chief executive and director of health and social care, said: "It's important that local authorities implement strategies to ensure local people are protected from the effects of air pollution. If we can address pollution at the planning stage, we can reduce the need for expensive remedial action further down the line.
"Poor air quality is associated with adverse health effects, including asthma attacks, reduced lung function, and admissions to hospital. As a society we need to think long-term and collaboratively to improve air quality across the country. Our guidance can help us to achieve that."