On Thursday 28 September, 50 delegates from 20 organisations gathered in Barton to learn and understand what makes a healthy and viable housing development.
The meeting brought together representatives from a range of organisations, including NHS England, Public Health England, Sport England, The Land Trust, and from district councils from across Oxfordshire and beyond.
It was run by the Town and Country Planning Association, and organised in conjunction with Oxfordshire County Council’s Public Health team and the BOBMK Urban Design Network, a networking organisation that provides opportunity for the dissemination of best practice and shared experience for improving the quality of design and development.
Topics discussed included housing provision, community facilities, local play areas, and provision for activities such as cycling and walking.
The Town and Country Planning Association have identified Barton as an area of learning for developers. By sharing knowledge on the kind of environment that promotes healthy lifestyle choices, Barton will help to guide and influence the planning and design of new developments in the future.
The 885-home development at Barton was specifically designed, by developers Barton Oxford LLP (which includes Oxford City Council and Grosvenor), to promote healthy lifestyles and has been chosen as one of NHS England’s Healthy New Towns.
The NHS Healthy New Towns initiative sets out to work with new developments in order to help shape the health of communities, and to rethink how health and care services can be delivered.
Michael Chang, Project and Policy Manager at the TCPA and lead on its Reuniting Health with Planning initiative, said: "The TCPA welcomed the opportunity to directly engage with the Barton Oxford LLP as part of a national project on health and wellbeing. Using Barton Park as an example we were able to really understand what drives the health and wellbeing agenda, and ensure that the TCPA communicates the learning to other areas across country seeking to bring forward healthy and viable developments."
Louisa Nie, Development Manager, at Grovesnor, said: “Together with Oxford City Council, we are committed to delivering a new neighbourhood that facilitates and promotes healthy and active lifestyles at Barton, and are aspired to building an integrated community that provides all Barton residents with equal opportunity to good physical and mental health and good health outcomes. It was very encouraging to have received some positive feedback for the work we have done so far at Barton Park, and I have also taken away some great learnings and suggestions which will be extremely valuable for taking this development to the next stage.”
Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “This was a really important and worthwhile event. New and existing Barton residents are set to benefit from the health-enabling infrastructure in the new development, which is designed to help address some of the UK’s most pressing health issues, such as obesity and physical inactivity. This will improve the health of all Barton residents for generations to come and I am pleased we are part of sharing this learning and our good practice with others.”
Councillor Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing at Oxford City Council, said: “The new development in Barton is so much more than just about building 885 new homes. We are delighted that Barton has been chosen as an area of learning for developers and look forward to providing excellent healthy lifestyle provision for the Barton community.”