One week left to express interest in NHS Healthy New Towns pilot programme

More than 50 parties have expressed interest in a new NHS programme to help local areas build housing developments to improve their residents' health.

Good design promotes physical activity. Image: MorgueFile
Good design promotes physical activity. Image: MorgueFile

The Healthy New Towns programme is part of a "radical" plan to deal with the twin problems of an ageing population and a rise in obesity-related health conditions, both of which are predicted to put the NHS in financially dire straits.

The organisation recognises that better placemaking and design could help solve the crisis by reducing illnesses such as Type-2 diabetes as well as improving quality of life and at-home care for elderly and mentally ill people.

In July the NHS invited expressions of interest from areas that have housing needs or expect population growth and want to deliver creative health-focused approaches to design. The call for expressions of interest closes on 30 September, after which up to five local areas will be selected to form long-term partnerships with the NHS. Click here to download the expression of interest form (PDF).

Developments selected for the programme could include a range of possible objectives, including tackling unhealthy 'obesogenic' environments by creating walkable neighbourhoods, improving cycling infrastructure, and providing easy access to healthy and affordable food in the local area.

They could also include the creation of public spaces and well-linked neighbourhoods that encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to mix and develop stronger communities - from 'dementia-friendly' public spaces to the inclusion of benches and public toilets to ensure elderly people feel confident leaving their houses.

Other options include developments that would integrate health and social care infrastructure or that use digital technologies to improve health outcomes.

The NHS will draw on the expertise of policymakers, designers, behavioural experts and international leaders in healthy built environments to help support the projects, with lessons learnt to be rolled out across the country.

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