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New towns take on health issues

by on March 3, 2016

The head of NHS England this week named 10 new settlements which will be test-beds for so-called ‘healthy new towns’.

The new towns will pilot innovative ways of dealing with health care challenges of the 21st century like obesity, dementia and community cohesion. This initiative is supported by Public Health England.

The programme will cover new communities across England and cover projects totaling more than 76,000 new homes and potentially approximately 170,000 residents.

The NHS will help shape the way these new sites develop by bringing together clinicians, designers and technology experts to reimagine how healthcare can be delivered in these places, to showcase what’s possible by joining up design of the built environment with modern health and care services, and to deploy new models of technology-enabled primary care.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said : ”As these new neighbourhoods and towns are built, we’ll kick ourselves if in 10 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 first 10 sites  chosen are:

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

Options to be tested at some of these sites include fast food-free zones near schools, designing safe and appealing green spaces, building dementia-friendly streets and ensuring people can access new GP services using digital technology.

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director for health and wellbeing at Public Health England, 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.”

Read more information about the towns

Roger Milne

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