NHS England’s Healthy New Towns programme has been described as a ‘mouth-watering opportunity for public health’ by the President of the British Medical Association.
Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the former Children’s Commissioner, was speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester and highlighted the potential the scheme has to help young people.
“This is a fantastic initiative,” he said. “I have been to some dismal modern estates with nothing for young people to do and I would urge that we build developments with children’s health at their hearts.”
The Healthy New Towns programme aims to put health at the heart of new neighbourhoods and towns across the country. With Britain losing 140 million working days to ill-health each year and the cost to the NHS of diabetes already at £10billion a year, the programme can have a real health and financial impact while delivering on key aims set out in the Five Year Forward View.
Sir Aynsley-Green joined Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, to discuss the programme with fellow panellists Mark Henderson, Chief Executive of the Home Group Housing Association, and Gary Young, partner at Farrells architects.
Simon Stevens said: “We are thinking about the slow burn, high impact choices we make as a country that we don’t notice over days and weeks but over years you look at what’s been achieved and think ‘wow’. We want to develop places that make the possibilities real. There is nothing more powerful than a real world example.”
Mark Henderson said: “This is about designing facilities that are not just needed now but thinking about what’s needed in the future. This is an opportunity to look again at how services are provided and will lead to a far better quality of life in communities.”
NHS England, with support from Public Health England, has invited leading local authorities, housing associations and the construction sector to identify development projects where they would like NHS support in creating health-promoting new towns and neighbourhoods in England.
Up to five long-term partnerships will initially be selected from across the country, covering housing developments of different sizes, from smaller projects up to those over 10,000 homes. Each site will benefit from a programme of support including global expertise in spatial and urban design.