People First: Health and Housing


Over the last two years, NHS England has been developing their Healthy New Towns programme.  Green Sky Thinking sponsor, IBI Group  are consultants involved with this ground-breaking project, and it has proved to them and their partners the value derived from creating places that embed healthcare in development projects. The scale ranges from master-planning of new developments, activating communities to support their healthcare, and through technology that helps support new models of care.


At the heart of these new places (referred to as ‘Healthy New Towns’) will be around 70,000 new homes. This number roughly coincides with the requirement of homes that London needs to deliver each year through 2030 to meet the demand for new housing stock.


As part of Green Sky Thinking week, IBI Group, focused on the City of London and how a ‘people first’ approach can lead to a better city. For this conference, IBI held a debate centered on health and housing.


During an early morning brainstorm session with built environment professionals and academics, the group explored the opportunity and challenges that exist in developing new housing stock, with the specific aim of improving long-term healthcare outcomes.


At the heart of this issue were two major facts. Firstly, that the cost to the NHS of the impact of poor housing is around £2.5bn per year, and secondly recent research sets out that up to 30% of new home owners and renters are prepared to pay more for a healthy home.


The attendees were asked to consider three questions that looked at examples of good practice, but also asked what the opportunities and challenges there are for the profession in delivering such exemplary work:


  • What are the best examples of housing that demonstrably contribute towards better healthcare outcomes?


  • What are the challenges in each of our professions that prevent us from addressing these issues at greater scale?


  • What additional information do you think our professions need to help support a greater delivery of more innovative and progressive housing that supports healthcare outcomes?


The short sessions lead to intense dialogue around topics such as improved training for professionals in this subject matter, from architects and engineers to town planning colleagues. We also discussed the best way in which a ‘centralized’ portal of best practice examples and guidance could be created.


A full summary compiled by IBI Group of the responses to each of the questions can be found here.