NHS England, along with its partners in the Healthy New Towns Programme, have just launched the Healthy New Towns Design Challenge. This Challenge is seeking ideas for new housing developments that foster health, well-being, and independence for residents. These ideas for services, products, and facilities designs, whether new ideas or proven methods from different contexts, should be implementable in Halton Lea, a NHS England Healthy New Towns Demonstrator Site. This ideation Challenge has a guaranteed total award amount of $20,000 and winners will earn public recognition for their contributions to the Healthy New Towns Programme. We caught up with Dan Northam-Jones from NHS England to talk about the aims of the Healthy New Towns Design Challenge.
Could you tell us more about the Healthy New Towns Programme?
In October 2014 the NHS Five Year Forward View set out a plan to close three major gaps in healthcare provision: health and well-being, by upgrading prevention; care and quality, by developing new care models; and funding and efficiency by investing wisely and improving productivity. The Forward View identified new housing developments as an opportunity to close these gaps by “designing in” health and well-being principles to the built environment and expanding new care models with fewer legacy constraints. The Healthy New Towns programme launched in Summer 2015, with ten Demonstrator Sites commencing work in April 2016. Beyond the Demonstrator Sites, we are working with national organisations across the health, care, housing and planning sectors to inform the wider market based on learning from Demonstrator Sites.
Why have you decided to launch this Design Challenge?
As an innovation programme, the Healthy New Towns are adopting novel methods to deliver our programme objectives. The Design Challenge presents an opportunity for the programme to learn from global innovators and provide new impetus from outside Demonstrator Sites to raise ambitions, expand awareness and explore new opportunities. We hope that the Design Challenge will inject ambition, inspiration and specific ideas that we can use as the programme develops.
Could you tell us about the Halton Lea site and why you have chosen it as the focus of this Challenge?
We have chosen the Halton site as the focus for the Design Challenge because Halton’s programme is at an early stage of delivery, so there is huge potential practically to implement innovative ideas proposed by Solvers. Furthermore, while many of our Demonstrator Sites are in areas with high land values (such as Bicester, Barking and Northstowe), some of the greatest opportunities to enhance health and well-being through housing developments are in less affluent areas where planning gains may be more modest. Generating innovative ideas on how to deliver improvements in these developments will be of huge value to the programme as a whole.
How will the ideas submitted to the Challenge inform/impact the development of the site?
A technical Masterplan to develop the early stages of more formal plans for use of the hospital site will be commissioned very soon and undertaken later this year. The Masterplan and will be informed by ideas generated from Solvers, and there is also potential for Solvers to play an ongoing role in supporting development of plans, subject to agreement with all parties.
Do you have any advice for those thinking about submitting to the Challenge?
The Healthy New Towns programme is rooted in delivering actionable outputs for Demonstrator Sites and other new housing developments to inform real-world decisions. Submissions that are practically undeliverable in the Halton site will offer inspiration but little of practical use – so we would encourage solvers to contextualise innovative aspirations within the commercial realities faced by the development industry to ensure that ambitious plans can be made actually to happen, rather than heavily de-scoped because of concerns about the viability of the site.