Oxford’s Barton Park named as NHS Healthy New Town


Oxford’s Barton Park development has been selected as one of ten NHS Healthy New Town demonstrator sites. 

Barton Park - artists impression

The head of NHS England will today announced plans to create ten NHS-supported ‘healthy new towns’ across the country, covering more than 76,000 new homes with potential capacity for approximately 170,000 residents.

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 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.”

The NHS will help shape the way the new site develops, so as to test creative solutions for the health and care challenges of the 21st century, including obesity, dementia and community cohesion. NHS England is bringing together renowned clinicians, designers and technology experts to reimagine how healthcare can be delivered in these places, to showcase what’s possible by joining up design of the built environment with modern health and care services, and to deploy new models of technology-enabled primary care.

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said:

“There is a shocking 10-year difference in average life expectancy across different parts of the city.

“The City Council has prioritised work with Public Health to tackle health deprivation in those areas for many years and I am  delighted that Barton Park has been chosen as a demonstrator site for the NHS England Healthy New Towns project.

“The scheme will investigate and then lead the way in improving the links between good housing, healthy living and how local services can be designed to put health improvement at the heart of our communities.”

Barton Park aims to be an exemplary garden suburb designed for the needs of the 21st century; a blend of high quality, healthy, urban living that is in harmony with its natural surroundings. It will provide up to 885 new homes, 40% of which will be social rented affordable housing and all will be designed to a minimum code for sustainable homes level 4.

Healthy living is at the heart of the design at Barton Park. There is a strong green infrastructure network, including greenways and a linear park with cycling and walking actively promoted through the careful design of the primary street and masterplan. The scheme will include new community facilities such as a primary school, a community hub, new sports pitches, pavilion and a 3G pitch for use of the school and community. There will also be two civic squares along the primary street to create natural gathering points and encourage social inclusion and community engagement.

As an NHS Healthy New Town, Barton Park will be able to add value through providing a controlled environment to monitor how the built environment can impact health and wellbeing. This will offer useful learnings and design principles for future Healthy New Towns. There are also opportunities to improve the health care delivery for the current Barton community which is considered to be an area of relative social and economic deprivation when compared to the rest of Oxfordshire. The scheme already provides for the redevelopment of the existing GP Bury Knowle surgery but further there is scope for further innovation on how health care technology and partnership with the John Radcliffe University could improve health care provision in the area.