Collaborative Placemaking for Thriving Healthy Places
The Healthy New Towns (HNT) programme was launched in 2015 to explore how the development of new places could provide opportunities to create healthier and better-connected communities. The programme worked with 10 demonstrator sites that were chosen in March 2016 from over 100 applicants. These sites included anywhere from 900 to 15,000 homes, all at different stages of development, with a community of diverse health needs, income levels and inequalities. The insights learned from these innovative sites has been collated into an executive summary entitled, Putting Health into Place.
Putting Health into Place highlights the 10 Healthy New Town Principles alongside a commitment to integrate health and care services, as previously outlined in the NHS’s Five Year Forward View. The intention here is to sustainably improve population health through a preventative integration of health and care services.
But haven’t we heard this before? What is different?
A Golden Opportunity
Putting Health into Place articulates how to improve health and wellbeing by addressing the role of the built environment, health service design, and wider social factors through the 10 demonstrator sites.
The key to its success lies in its collaborative approach which brings together councils, developers, health service professionals and other stakeholders like designers and technology experts. Together, this team works to deliver housing schemes and places which promote wellbeing among residents through integrated and high-quality services. By involving local people throughout the development process and beyond, this is a golden opportunity for the National Health Service (NHS) England to work with new and effective partnerships.
Ebbsfleet Garden City is one example where the UK is prioritising health through a holistic development approach by using big data to the benefit of both existing and new communities in terms of health, homes, facilities and improved public realm. Ebbsfleet incorporates health-driven design interventions to reduce childhood obesity, help people eat healthier, and improve access to green space.
The Ebbsfleet Digital Movement Project has developed accessible and continued methods of communication using smart technologies. It involves a cohort of 100 new and existing residents and workers that are equipped with wearable technologies (Fitbits) to understand movement patterns within the urban realm. By using technology to encourage resident activity, as well as establishing a support programme that includes access to a Community Interest Group, the hopes are that residents can change and sustain behaviours to improve health outcomes. The results seek to demonstrate that wearable technology can support improving health outcomes, ultimately enabling NHS England to roll out the initiative to ten HNTs.
Through a design proposal to transform an existing NHS site into a new hospital and wellbeing campus, Halton Lee Healthy New Town demonstrates how new effective partnerships between local authorities, the wider healthcare system, and local communities can be delivered successfully. The reconfiguration of the existing hospital site will release unused NHS land for the construction of a range of supporting health and wellbeing facilities and multigenerational housing.
Creating Healthy Thriving Places
IBI Group is currently involved in projects that are directly influenced by the success of the Healthy New Towns programme. This includes residential masterplans that explore how to increase social interactions by design, and proposals for a modular off-site ‘Health Haus’ which fosters health in new homes, through to a series of Health and Wellbeing Hubs.
The NHS, through the publication of this new guidance, is demonstrating how a new, locally driven healthcare services can be delivered through close collaboration between public and private sector organisations and local communities. These partnerships not only support our need for new housing, but also helps support the wider health and wellbeing of our communities by creating thriving places which will positively impact the UK economy.
Justin is an Architect and Global Deputy Healthcare Lead with IBI Group, a global technology driven design company. With over 20 years of experience in a range of projects, the majority of his work has focused on healthcare and specific expertise in the primary and community care sector. With an interest in innovative healthcare systems, his strength lies in the design and development of complex multi stakeholder projects such as Bolton One, Gorton Community Hub, and Corby Health and Wellbeing Centre. Justin is part of the IBI Healthcare + Core Strategy Group, leads the global Primary and Community Care network, and forms part of our global Seniors Studio, exploring innovative concepts for Aging in Place. Justin is currently working with NHS England on their Healthy New Towns programme in the development of innovative Healthy Communities.
Lead image via FBCR Environment and Design Ltd.