The head of NHS England will today announce plans to create ten NHS-supported ‘healthy new towns’ across the country, including the Ebbsfleet Garden City development, which is creating up to 15,000 new homes in the first garden city for 100 years.

The NHS will help shape the way these new sites develop, so as to test creative solutions for the health and care challenges of the 21st century, including obesity, dementia and community cohesion.

Mr Stevens says: “The much-needed push to kick start affordable housing across England creates a golden opportunity for the NHS to help promote health and keep people independent. As these new neighbourhoods and towns are built, 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.”

Patricia Davies, Accountable Officer of NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who plan and buy most health services in the area, said: “We are delighted to be leading the Ebbsfleet Garden City Healthy New Town project. It represents a significant opportunity to improve the health of local people and build a new community that promotes healthy lifestyle choices.”

Located in an existing urban area with significant health inequalities, the Ebbsfleet development will provide an attractive environment that promotes active and sustainable healthy living. Multi-functional green spaces, high quality leisure facilities and healthy eating venues will be developed alongside active transport links, integrated cycle paths and walking routes. Access to smart technology will also make healthy choices easier.

New models of care, built around people, not organisations, will embrace the third sector and local community networks, creating opportunities for ‘co-located’ services that support strong multi-generational communities. Co-located services could range from antenatal care through to falls clinics provided in a dementia-friendly environment.

Connectivity between Ebbsfleet and existing communities will be essential to ensure health inequalities are not widened. Improved transport links and accessibility of services and facilities will support all residents across Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley to realise the health benefits from this exciting venture.

Patricia Davies of Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG added: “We are really pleased to hear about the success of the Ebbsfleet bid, which will provide a fantastic framework within which we can pursue our ambition to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent illness in an area that has some real health inequality challenges.”

Roger Gough, Cabinet Member for Education & Health Reform, Kent County Council stated: “Congratulations to the CCG and all those involved in the Healthy New Town proposal. This success provides a great opportunity to continue our partnership working and improve the lives of people living in the Ebbsfleet locality. I am particularly pleased that there will be specific focus on keeping older people independent and healthy, supported by the latest technology to live in their own homes for longer.”

Michael Cassidy, CBE, Chairman of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation said: “This is an important milestone in the development of Ebbsfleet Garden City and we are delighted to be part of an initiative that will encourage healthy lifestyles in the 21st century. We look forward to working with NHS England as we drive forward our Garden City. Having Healthy New Towns status is a positive move forward with all that it can bring in health care innovation in developing communities.”

Expressions of interest in the Healthy New Towns programme were invited last summer, and attracted 114 applications from local authorities, housing associations, NHS organisations and housing developers, far exceeding expectations. After a rigorous selection process and presentations from the shortlisted projects, the first ten sites have now been chosen:

  • Ebbsfleet Garden City, Kent – up to 15,000 new homes in the first garden city for 100 years.
  • Whitehill and Bordon, Hampshire – 3,350 new homes on a former army barracks. A new care campus will co-locate ‘care-ready homes’ specially designed to be adaptable to the needs of people with long term conditions with a nurse-led treatment centre, pharmacy and integrated care hub.
  • Cranbrook, Devon – 8,000 new residential units. Data suggests that Cranbrook has three times the national average of 0-4 year olds and will look at how prevention and healthy lifestyles can be taught in schools from a young age.
  • Darlington – 2,500 residential units across three linked sites in the Eastern Growth Zone. Darlington is developing a ‘virtual care home’ offer where a group of homes with shared facilities are configured to link directly into a digital care hub, avoiding institutionalisation in nursing homes.
  • Barking Riverside – 10,800 residential units on London’s largest brownfield site.
  • Whyndyke Farm in Fylde, Lancashire – 1,400 residential units.
  • Halton Lea, Runcorn – 800 residential units.
  • Bicester, Oxon – 393 houses in the Elmsbrook project, part of 1300 new homes planned.
  • Northstowe, Cambridgeshire – 10,000 homes on former military land.
  • Barton Park, Oxford – 885 residential units.