HS England has today announced a ground-breaking partnership with some of the country’s top housing developers and associations to help expand exciting ideas for healthy living such as urban assault courses, fitness adventure trials and fruit trees with new homes.

Urban&Civic are among twelve housing developers and associations who have signed-up to NHS England’s Healthy New Towns Network which aims to improve the health of the nation by building innovative schemes including tech-enabled homes to help elderly residents, integrated gyms and dementia friendly streets, parks and neighbourhoods.

New communities being developed in Cambridgeshire at Alconbury Weald, Wintringham and Waterbeach will be the first among Urban&Civic’s strategic schemes to pilot the approach, with learning and ideas being shared across the 7 schemes the company is taking forward across the South East, the East of England and the Midlands.

Across the country the health service in England is working closely with housing developers to embed good public health in housing, which has already resulted in restrictions being placed on access to junk food outlets during school hours, increased numbers of people making use of free, outdoor exercise equipment and one developer agreeing to plant a fruit tree in every new home’s garden.  Other housing developers and associations signed up to the network include British Land, Peabody (one of London’s oldest and biggest housing associations) and Clarion Housing Group - the largest housing association in Europe. The network will be led by NHS England in partnership with Public Health England.

Other schemes that could be rolled out across the country in future plans include:

• ‘One-stop’ health hubs - offering citizens access to advice, dentistry, primary care and voluntary sector, all under one roof.
• Digitally monitored fitness programmes to get everyone exercising – using data from Fitbits to make busy urban areas fitness friendly.
• Community healthy food cafes – offering employment to those with learning disabilities.
• Pop-up community gardens – creating green spaces in urban environments for local schools and residents to garden and learn about healthy living.
• Outdoor gyms - offering residents a free way of keeping fit and active.

Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, Chair of NHS England, said:

“The Healthy New Towns 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.”

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.”

Rebecca Britton, Head of Communities and Partnerships for Urban&Civic said:

“We have always looked to deliver best practise in creating places with walkable neighbourhoods, good access to green space, and encouraging active living and travel options. Being part of this network, will provide greater opportunity to share and develop best practice and expand our work with local and national health partners to truly deliver healthy places for people to live and work, and healthy communities of the future.”

Each housing developer and association has formally 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.

The network allows a national roll-out of the successful Healthy New Towns programme, which was set up by NHS England, in partnership with Public Health England, to explore new and innovative ways to tackle the biggest health and care challenges of the 21st century, such as obesity, dementia and social isolation. 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.  

Additional Background Information

Full list of housing developers and associations signed up to the Healthy New Towns Network:
• 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

Ten sites currently taking part in the Healthy New Towns scheme:
• 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.