Bicester, Oxfordshire

Key facts

  • Led by Cherwell District Council.
  • 6,000 houses in North West Bicester, 13,000 for the whole town.
  • Greenfield site.
  • Timeline: first site completed. Expansion over 20 years.
  • Region: South.

Bicester’s vision

“To create a healthy community by making it easy, attractive and affordable for people of all ages to live healthy, sustainable lifestyles and to replicate the learning to elsewhere”

The Healthy New Town Programme at Bicester is a place-based population-wide prevention programme, using the opportunities presented by population growth to test innovations in the built environment, new models of care, and community activation to identify the impacts they have on public health and to replicate the learning elsewhere in the county and country. The aim is that Bicester 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. The programme has adopted a systems based approach to delivering change, 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.

Digital Innovation is a key enabler and is led by Oxford Academic Health Science Network. This includes new digital technologies and health related applications to promote self-diagnosis, self-monitoring and self-care. It will consider the optimum approach to matching the needs of the Bicester HNT with the technology opportunities available, and how such technologies could be introduced. This includes the joint development of A2Dominion’s Shimmy tablet and the public need to adopt a digitally inclusive approach to promoting healthy lifestyles.


Bicester’s two key priorities are:

  • To increase the number of children and adults who are physically active and a healthy weight (In Bicester 1 in 4 of children aged 2-10 are overweight or obese and 58% of women and 65% of men are overweight or obese)
  • To reduce the number of people who feel socially isolated or lonely in order to improve their mental wellbeing (17% of older people are in contact with family friends and neighbours less than once a week).

What are Bicester doing?

The following activities have been categorised by Bicester’s four workstreams are a summary of activities and projects currently under way or completed:

Built environment

  • Healthy New Town principles embedded in the master plan for Bicester.
  • Completion of 2 x 5km ‘Health Routes’ around Bicester have received excellent feedback from residents, with a third planned. Evaluation is underway.
  • Comprehensive cycling and walking way finding project underway.
  • Green spaces mapped and promoted through a leaflet.
  • Oxford Brookes University have completed an observational study of the use of Bicester’s parks.
  • Bikeability courses available over the summer.

New Models of Care

  • Predictive modelling work is underway to assess the impact of population growth on future demand for primary care in the town.
  • NHS England’s New Models of Care team are providing advice on how care can be developed in Bicester and the NE locality. A strategy using the predictive modelling work will develop a new model of care for Bicester.
  • Ann integrated training programme for local health and care support workers is being developed for a range of independent, voluntary and public sector organisations.
  • Pilot of a new diabetes pathway has commenced.
  • Development of a mental health website for teenagers has commenced to help support their needs and to offer advice to parents.

Community activation

  • Primary and secondary schools are actively engaged with the programme. Both in terms of physical activity promotion, healthy eating and intergenerational projects with older residents.
  • The Six steps to a healthier you leaflet has been launched.  Church leaders who undertake welcome visits to new residents in Kingsmere and Elmsbrook have agreed to hand out the leaflet on their visits.  Copies have been handed out at the Big Lunch and Bicester Bike Day.
  • The health and wellbeing at work project is due to commence shortly, to actively encourage healthier choices in Bicester’s small and medium sized businesses.
  • A Bicester Green Spaces Summer Challenge has been launched to encourage residents to use the information leaflet on the town’s main open spaces and visit them over the summer holidays.
  • The capacity of voluntary organisations is being supported through the formation of a Voluntary Organisation Network for the town and many are actively involved and taking forward Bicester’s six healthy steps.


  • Bicester Healthy Lives survey, developed to collect baseline data about residents’ health and wellbeing, has been completed. Over 1,000 responses obtained and are now being analysed to inform the programme.
  • Bicester are leading the National Healthy New Town’s programmes evaluation collaborative and have developed an evaluation framework with key metrics.

Links to relevant websites and social media