Austin Macauley 01 March 2016

NHS England reveals first ‘healthy new towns’

The locations of 10 ‘healthy new towns’ that will ‘test creative solutions for the health and care challenges of the 21st century’ have been announced.

Driven by NHS England, the initiative will deliver 76,000 new homes for around 170,000 residents and will be used as exemplars for how the design of the built environment can be married with innovative health and care services.

The locations were chosen from 114 bids submitted by local authorities, housing associations, developers and NHS organisations.

They include a former army barracks at Whitehill and Bordon in Hampshire where 3,350 homes will be built. The development will include ‘care-ready homes’ designed to be adaptable to the needs of people with long-term conditions, a nurse-led treatment centre, pharmacy and integrated care hub.

Darlington’s eastern growth zone, earmarked for 2,500 homes, will create a ‘virtual care home’ where a group of properties with shared facilities are configured to link directly into a digital care hub, ‘avoiding institutionalisation in nursing homes’.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: ‘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.’

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director for health and wellbeing at Public Health England, which is supporting the programme, said:

‘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.’

Healthy new towns:

•Whitehill and Bordon, Hampshire.
•Cranbrook, Devon.
•Barking Riverside.
•Whyndyke Farm in Fylde, Lancashire.
•Halton Lea, Runcorn.
•Bicester, Oxon.
•Northstowe, Cambridgeshire.
•Ebbsfleet Garden City, Kent.
•Barton Park, Oxford.

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