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Plans for ten 'healthy towns' in England announced

Clinicians will team up with urban planners to design towns that encourage healthy living

 

Plans to create ten 'healthy towns' in England have been announced today.

The healthy new town programme will see NHS England team up with Public Health England (PHE) to shape the development of the new towns, which will be designed to tackle healthcare challenges such as obesity and dementia.

Both organisations, along with leading clinicians, will be involved in the planning stages for the town sites around the country.

The sites will include more than 76,000 new homes with the potential to house 170,000 residents.

Options likely to be tested include having fast-food-free zones near schools, dementia-friendly street design and signage and ensuring all residents have online access to GP services.

There will be designs for 'safe and appealing' green spaces and the planners will consider how 'adventure areas' could be built into streets to encourage walking and play.

Speaking at a King's Fund event in London today, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens hailed the project as ‘a golden opportunity for the NHS to help promote health and keep people independent’.

He also quoted a report by Building Research Establishment which shows an estimated 3.5 million homes in England have serious hazards, such as damp and pests, which cause health problems that cost the NHS at least £1.4 billion every year.

He added: ‘We’ll kick ourselves if in ten years' time we look back having missed the opportunity to design out the obesogenic environment, and design in health and wellbeing.’

PHE national director for health and wellbeing Kevin Fenton added: ‘Some of the UK’s most pressing health challenges – such as obesity, mental health issues, physical inactivity and the needs of an ageing population – can all be influenced by the quality of our built and natural environment.

‘This innovative programme will inform our thinking and planning of everyday environments to improve health for generations to come.’

The project attracted a total of 114 applications from local authorities, housing associations, NHS organisations and housing developers.

Among the first ten locations to be chosen are 3,350 new homes featuring a nurse-led treatment centre on former army barracks in Hampshire and an 8,000 home development in Devon which will focus on how healthy lifestyles can be taught to children from a young age.

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