England: Housing associations sign up to NHS ‘healthy towns’ initiative

Cranbrook in Devon. Image courtesy of NHS England

Developers and housing associations have signed up to an NHS England initiative which will see them design neighbourhoods which push a healthy agenda.

Under the Healthy New Towns Network, the partnerships will aim to expand ideas for healthy living such as dementia-friendly houses and restricting fast food sales to children.

Other schemes that could be rolled out as part of future plans include digitally-monitored fitness programmes to get more people exercising, and community healthy food cafes and after school clubs which will offer employment to those with learning disabilities.

Outdoor gyms and pop-up community gardens will also be encouraged.

Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, chair of NHS England, said the network means “new and exciting” ideas of healthy living will be at the heartbeat of towns and villages of the future.

“We aim to enable millions of people across the country, and future generations, to live happier and healthy lives, which is vital to delivering the 10 year plan for the NHS,” he said.

Twelve housing developers and associations - including British Land, Peabody, and Clarion Housing Group - have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, pledging their commitment to prioritising health and wellbeing in the planning, development and management of new housing developments and regeneration schemes.

There are currently 10 sites taking part in the Healthy New Towns scheme, covering 60,000 new homes, with more developers signing up on an ongoing basis.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE in London, said: “It is well known that we have a shortage of housing in England and evidence shows where we live influences our health.

“It is vital that when we build new homes we design health in at the very beginning – the Healthy New Towns Network will help us to craft a better urban environment and reduce health inequalities.”

The full list of associations and developers signed up is:

  • A2Dominion
  • British Land
  • Clarion Housing Group
  • HAB Housing
  • Hanover Housing Association
  • National Pride UK Ltd
  • Peabody
  • Redrow
  • The Riverside Group
  • Thakeham Group
  • Urban and Civic plc
  • Urban Catalyst
  • The 10 sites currently taking part in the scheme are:

    • Whitehill and Bordon, Hampshire – 3,350 new homes on former Ministry of Defence land.
    • Cranbrook, Devon – 8,000 new residential units.
    • Darlington, County Durham – 2,500 residential units across three linked sites in the Eastern Growth Zone.
    • Barking Riverside, London – 10,800 residential units on London’s largest brownfield site.
    • Whyndyke Garden Village, Fylde, Lancashire – 1,400 residential units.
    • Halton Lea, Runcorn – 800 residential units.
    • Bicester, Oxfordshire – 6,000 homes in North West Bicester, 13,000 for Bicester in total.
    • Northstowe, Cambridgeshire – 10,000 homes on former Ministry of Defence land.
    • Ebbsfleet Garden City, Kent – up to 15,000 new homes in the first garden city for 100 years.
    • Barton, Oxford – 885 residential units.
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