NHS works with ten new homes developments to build ‘Healthy New Towns’

Posted 1 March 2016 by Keith Osborne

A new initiative sees England's National Health Service working with developers to create a healthier environment and improved health and care services...

NHS England has announced a new initiative in collaboration with ten major new homes developments across the country to help shape the help of each local community by re-thinking how health and care services are provided to residents.

The Healthy New Towns programme is a result of the NHS Five Year Forward View, which invited interest from developments of a range of sizes to be selected to take part. As the developments are created, NHS England will look at how it can adapt its services to “improving their community’s health, wellbeing and independence”.

Initiatives range from introducing ‘fast food-free zones’ close to schools to designing open spaces and building dementia-friendly streets. The needs of people of different ages will be considered to encourage walking and to give children the opportunity to play outside in a safe environment.

Chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, says: “The much-needed push to kick-start affordable housing across England creates a golden opportunity for the NHS to help promote health and keep people independent. As these new neighbourhoods and towns are built, we’ll kick ourselves if in ten years time we look back having missed the opportunity to ‘design out’ the obesogenic environment, and ‘design in’ health and wellbeing.

“We want children to have places where they want to play with friends and can safely walk or cycle to school – rather than just exercising their fingers on video games. We want to see neighbourhoods and adaptable home designs that make it easier for older people to continue to live independently wherever possible. And we want new ways of providing new types of digitally-enabled local health services that share physical infrastructure and staff with schools and community groups.”

The ten ‘demonstrator sites’ are: 

  • Whitehill and Bordon, Hampshire (3,350 homes)
  • Cranbrook, Devon  (8,000 homes)
  • Darlington, County Durcham (2,500 homes)
  • Barking Riverside, east London (10,800 homes)
  • Fylde, Lancashire (1,400 homes)
  • Runcorn, Cheshire (800 homes)
  • Bicester, Oxfordshire (393 homes)
  • Northstowe, Cambridgeshire (10,000 homes)
  • Ebbsfleet Garden City, Kent (15,000 homes)
  • Barton Park, Oxfordshire ( 885 homes)

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director for health and wellbeing at Public Health England (PHE) adds: “Some of the UK’s most pressing health challenges – such as obesity, mental health issues, physical inactivity and the needs of an ageing population – can all be influenced by the quality of our built and natural environment.

“The considerate design of spaces and places is critical to promote good health. This innovative programme will inform our thinking and planning of everyday environments to improve health for generations to come.

“PHE is proud to have played an active role in the development of the Healthy New Towns programme and we will continue to support the delivery of high-quality, healthy environments.”


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