NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens has announced plans to create ten NHS-supported ‘healthy new towns‘ across the country including one in Bicester. Together they will cover more than 76,000 new homes with potential capacity for approximately 170,000 residents. The aim is for health and wellbeing to be designed into their construction.
The successful Bicester bid is a collaboration of over 20 organisations including the Oxford Academic Health Science Network. It is led by Cherwell District Council and includes Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, healthcare providers and researchers and NW Bicester lead developer A2Dominion. The overall programme is supported by Public Health England (PHE).
The Healthy New Towns programme – part of the NHS Five Year Forward View – received 114 applications from local authorities, housing associations, NHS organisations and housing developers. The ten chosen plans – which includes another project in Oxford – were drawn from a shortlist of 16.
The Bicester bid was secured through the innovative approach being undertaken at Elmsbrook, NW Bicester to include health from the outset and create a place where sustainable and healthy living becomes the norm. It will provide greater opportunities to assess and share the health and wellbeing benefits of living in an exemplary development and test new ways of delivering health services including patient-activated self-care, all of which can be applied to Bicester’s wider 13,000 home strategic growth.
For those needing healthcare, the Bicester Healthy New Town Partnership will enable new integrated service models to be developed which will include patient-activated technology. This will complement the digital tablets provided to every household at Elmsbrook for live travel, home energy and community information.
Some of the greatest health challenges – including obesity, mental health, physical inactivity and an ageing population – can all be influenced by the quality of our built and natural environment. The sympathetic design of spaces and places is critical to promote good health.
The Bicester Healthy Town, Healthy Lives concept will provide greater opportunity to assess and share the health and wellbeing benefits arising from NW Bicester to apply best practice to wider growth in the town that will focus on ill-health prevention.
Ian Davies, Director of Operational Delivery at Cherwell District Council who led the bid said: “It is enormously exciting for Bicester to be part of the Healthy New Towns programme. We are well on the way to encouraging healthier lifestyles to be embedded into the local communities in and around Bicester, particularly at NW Bicester, which will be a catalyst for healthy living.
“There are already key building blocks in place to deliver a radical step change in residents’ health and wellbeing outcomes and we have been working with a committed cross-disciplinary partnership which has a culture of innovation and sharing that will continue to be part of our long-term vision.”