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NHS launches new towns offer in drive for healthier homes

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The NHS is to help councils to design ‘health-promoting’ housing developments and has vowed to get more involved in ‘place-shaping’

In a speech to the Local Government Association’s annual conference, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens admitted the NHS had not always been supportive of authorities’ development and regeneration efforts.

‘The NHS has probably not been terribly good partner on the broader economic housing agenda and the economic participation agenda that many local authorities are actively getting their teeth into,’ he said. ‘[We] want to play it part.’

According to the AJ’s sister title LGC, Stevens’ pledge of support for housing developments follows a proposal for health and social care ‘new towns’ in the NHS Five Year Forward View, which was published last year.

Under the proposal, the health needs of future residents will be considered during the planning stage of new developments.

The health needs of future residents will be considered during planning

This aims to help the NHS to design modern health services that make the best use of technology and its estate.

Speaking last week, Stevens said while councils considered infrastructure such as schools as part of new developments, the NHS was often slow to respond with new services such as GP practices.

One delegate said his council had previously been told there was no money for new NHS facilities when attempting to engage with the health service during the planning stage.

Stevens said this was partly because the formula that determines how much funding local NHS commissioners receive took time to catch up with changes in the population size.

He added: ‘We can’t do this everywhere but in five or so parts of the country that are high growth we have these questions about how we do upfront redesign [of health services] so we don’t just keep doing the same old, same old.’

In a statement released following the speech Stevens said NHS England, in conjunction with Public Health England, wanted to work with councils and others in up to five areas ‘to design and develop new town partnerships that put innovative health and social care practice at the very heart of urban planning’.

This would include designing-in healthy living, making best use of new technology which can support older people at home and sharing infrastructure across public services, it added.

Local authorities, housing associations and the construction sector are invited to identify projects in England where they would like NHS support in creating health-promoting new towns and neighbourhoods.

These could range from small developments up projects of more than 10,000 units. 

Organisations have until 30 September to submit expressions of interest.

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  • Image is of Great Auger Street by RDA Architects, photographed by Timothy Soar

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