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Ebbsfleet Garden City gets 'health new town' status in pioneering approach by the NHS

PUBLISHED: 09:32 01 March 2016 | UPDATED: 11:16 01 March 2016

Ebbsfleet to be NHS healthy town. (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Ebbsfleet to be NHS healthy town. (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

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Development will be designed to promote good health and independent living for the elderly

The multi-million pound Ebbsfleet Garden City is to be one of 10 areas around the country to be given ‘healthy new town’ status by the NHS.

It means the garden city will lead the way – and be held up as a role model – for being a healthy community that promotes good lifestyle choices.

The project – one of only ten announced by NHS England today - will be a joint partnership with Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group.

Michael Cassidy, CBE, chairman of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, which is accelerating the development of up to 15,000 homes in Britain’s first garden city for 100 years, 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 town status is a positive move forward with all that it can bring in health care innovation in developing communities.”

As the garden city moves forward, the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation will help create opportunities for play, sport and recreation including connected cycle tracks, open air gyms, dog walking trails and schools that children and parents can walk to.

It wants to create an accessible and healthy community for current and future generations to enjoy.

There will also be a specific focus on keeping older people independent and healthy, supported by the latest technology, to help them live in their own homes for longer.

This provides an opportunity for the garden city to be a pioneer in providing easily adjustable homes that give an elderly or disabled homeowner a lifetime of benefits as well as allowing garden city planners to ‘design in’ modern healthcare from the start.

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 easy.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “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.

“We want children to have have places where they want to play with friends and can safely walk or cycle to school – rather than just exercising their fingers on video games.

“We want to see neighbourhoods and adaptable home designs that make it easier for older people to continue to live independently wherever possible.

“And we want new ways of providing new types of digitally-enabled local health services that share physical infrastructure and staff with schools and community groups.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director for health and wellbeing at Public Health England added: “Some of the UK’s most pressing health challenges – such as obesity, mental health issues, physical inactivity and the needs of an ageing population – can all be influenced by the quality of our built and natural environment.

“The considerate design of spaces and places is critical to promote good health.

“This innovative programme will inform our thinking and planning of everyday environments to improve health for generations to come.

“PHE is proud to have played an active role in the development of the Healthy New Towns programme and we will continue to support the delivery of high quality, healthy environments.”

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