The NHS wants to create healthier households in the UK by incorporating green spaces in neighbourhoods currently in development.
The project, called Putting Health into Place, focuses on 10 principles of building a healthier neighbourhood. Working together with the Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA), health think tank The King’s Fund and social change think tank The Young Foundation, they trialled the 10 principles at 10 locations across the UK where major housebuilding activity is planned or already taking place.
The NHS England’s 10 principles for putting health into place
- Plan ahead collectively.
- Assess local health and care needs and assets.
- Connect, involve and empower people and communities.
- Create compact neighbourhoods.
- Maximise active travel.
- Inspire and enable healthy eating.
- Foster health in homes and buildings.
- Enable healthy play and leisure.
- Develop health services that help people to stay well.
- Create integrated health and well-being centres.
The ten principles promote compact neighbourhoods and functional green infrastructure that can aid residents' well-being.
"It reminds people to think about green infrastructure right from the start of the process," TCPA projects director Julia Thrift explains. "It is about respecting and understanding the existing landscape and working through not only what the green infrastructure opportunities are but how it will be funded, managed and maintained."
In practice, the principles could mean the development of allotments and play areas across the neighbourhoods.
"It is not about the standard playground in the corner of a development but about integrating features throughout," she adds.
Ebbsfleet Garden City in Kent is one of the participating in the programme. Around 42% of the garden city's developable area is expected to be open green space.
Landscape developers will work together with the local Incredible Edible group to create edible gardens across the city. There will also be a highway giving uninterrupted access to nature, a green-grid network for community and wildlife movement and focal points for food production and habitat creation.
In Barton Park, near Oxford, the development team worked with design and planning consultancy Terence O’Rourke to arrive at a masterplan that would help people embrace healthier lifestyles. "This has combined more obvious interventions like creating a new fitness trail and running and cycling routes, alongside elements that provide a more subtle backdrop for mental and physical health, such as green spaces for exercise, relaxation and reflection," explains Alex Robinson, director of development, adding: "A good example is the more natural planting strategy that we’ve taken, encouraging people to explore the great outdoors as well as helping local biodiversity to flourish."
The eight other locations in the healthy new towns programme are:
- Barking Riverside, east London
- Bicester, Oxfordshire
- Cranbrook, East Devon
- Darlington, County Durham
- Halton Lea, Runcorn
- Northstowe, Cambridgeshire
- Whitehill & Bordon, Hampshire
- Whyndyke Garden Village, Lancashire