Expo’s designs on Healthy New Towns

NHS England’s latest announcement on the Healthy New Towns programme hit the headlines recently with the announcement of our global design challenge winner.

The exciting plans for Halton Lea in Cheshire and its weekly shopping discounts for those who exercise, together with plans for an outdoor cinema, bikes for every new home and an outdoor obstacle course really captured the public’s imagination and attracted a lot of media interest.

The Healthy New Towns programme at Expo 2017 is a chance to hear more about the important and exciting work that our Demonstrator Sites are leading on, in developing healthier communities.

Join us at the Innovate Stage at 3pm on 12 September for what promises to be an interesting insight into the programme, beyond the headlines.

Chaired by Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, we’ll hear from the leads of two of our sites and the winners of our international design challenge, on how they’re working in partnership with a range of sectors to deliver healthier places and innovative models of care.

The global design challenge was launched in May, and focused on one particular demonstrator site – Halton Lea in Cheshire. The challenge was open to innovators in architecture, urban design, planning and beyond and received 34 high quality submissions from all over the world, including the USA, Spain, India and Japan.

The winner, Citiesmode, a London based planning research and training consultancy submitted 15 project ideas, all interconnected and rooted in the context of Halton Lea.

It is hoped that many ideas will be taken forward in the masterplan of the development. All plans will go before the community to ensure the development is co-designed, with local people having an active part in shaping it.

The 15 ideas covered five themes:

  • Integrated and flexible health and care infrastructure – encouraging a seamless design from health services to wider community amenities.
  • Design healthy workplaces, schools and leisure facilities – a ‘neighbourhood home’ and community kitchen in the centre of the development.
  • Create connected neighbourhoods, strong communities and inclusive public spaces – a ‘Halton Square’ creating a destination for the community, making best use of space to drive the economy and create a place to socialise.
  • Build healthier homes and environments – high quality building certification as standard for new buildings on the development.
  • Tackle unhealthy environments – making Halton walkable and cycle-able, with good design and innovative signage.

During the session we’ll hear from Mel Pickup, Chief Executive of Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Trust about the vision for Halton Lea and the future of health and care services, and Sara Dilmamode and Philip Liu from Citiesmode who will present some of the leading ideas within their world beating submission.

We’re also extremely happy to be joined by Dr Rosie Rowe, Bicester Healthy New Town Programme Director, and Ian Davies, Operations Director of Cherwell District Council. They will be discussing the Bicester Healthy New Towns partnership and what they’ve been able to achieve so far.

The vision for Bicester is that the town becomes a place where healthy behaviour is easy, fun and affordable – where being active, eating healthy food, and being a good neighbour are just part of normal daily life.  

In order to encourage physical activity two 5km ‘Health Routes’ have been installed around the town. These routes have received excellent feedback from residents, with a third planned. This is a component of a comprehensive cycling and walking way finding project, encouraging residents of all ages to switch to active travel.

The Bicester programme is working closely with a wide range of partners including schools, businesses, health and care providers, the voluntary sector, housing developers and academic partners, with Cherwell District Council acting as the lead organisation.

Despite housing development build times often spreading over several decades and health outcomes being difficult to measure in the short term, there has been plenty of learning from the first 18 months of the Healthy New Towns programme which was launched with ten demonstrator sites in March 2016.

The most important factor in the success of sites has been the development of effective partnerships across sectors. These partnerships cross health providers, CCGs, planners and urban designers, public health teams, housing developers and more. Local government leadership is a prominent feature, with nine out of ten leads coming from that sector.

The programme is putting together best practice in creating healthier places, and Expo promises to showcase some of this best practice and how we’re going about it. You’ll have the chance to discuss the presentations in our interactive Q&A session. We hope you’ll join us.

Danny McDonnell

Danny McDonnell is a Strategy Programme Manager with NHS England and leads on engagement and spread for the Healthy New Towns programme.

He has a background in Public Health but also spent four years at the Royal College of Physicians in improving stroke services. Prior to NHS England, Danny worked for two years in Malawi, Southern Africa on a number of international development projects.

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