Where people live has a huge impact on their physical and mental health. Safe cycling and walking routes, for example, encourage more active lifestyles. Similarly, good community spaces and services reduce social isolation. This is why NHS England wants to encourage housebuilders, policy makers and health authorities to build places that give people a chance to live healthier lives. The Healthy New Towns (HNT) programme is about understanding and promoting the best way to do this.
To launch the programme, NHS England trialled a range of initiatives at ten major new housing developments around the country. These included testing innovative care models, making changes to the built environment and developing spaces that encourage physical activity and social connection. Our team of economists, statisticians and health specialists carried out in-depth analysis of ten of the most promising initiatives.
As well as evaluating the impact on health outcomes, we looked at economic returns. We developed an advanced statistical model of the UK housing market to find out how HNT initiatives affect house prices. Our evaluation highlighted significant changes, providing a strong incentive for house-builders to incorporate HNT principles into their developments.
Our work gave NHS England the strong evidence base they needed to launch Putting Health into Place, a report which provides ten principles to guide the different stakeholders involved in developing new communities. Not only will these help prevent ill health and make stretched health budgets go further. They’ll get partners working together to build places where everyone can enjoy healthier, happier lives.