Healthy New Towns

In March 2016, the NHS announced its commitment to create 10 new ‘Healthy New Towns‘. The development of these towns will involve the collaboration of clinicians, urban planners and designers, and technology experts.

We’ve heard plenty about the concept of ‘obesogenic environments’ (environments that promote a lifestyle that is sedentary and that provide and encourage poor-quality diets). The idea with Healthy New Towns is to instead promote healthy living through the built environment and by reimaging how health and care services can be provided to local communities.

Features of a Healthy New Town would include plenty of green spaces, access to virtual GP clinics from homes and fast-food-free zones around schools. The projects also aim to address the chronic shortage of affordable homes in the UK.

Why is this relevant for the Food Hub? 

You will recall that up until now we have been discussing Hinxton, south of Cambridge, as the site for the first Food Hub. This is still a very strong contender for the site of the Food Hub and has a lot going for it, including the support of SmithsonHill and the location within their wider agritech development.

More recently we have also started to explore the potential for housing the Food Hub at Northstowe, a Healthy New Town around ten kilometers north-west of Cambridge. Northstowe will be linked to Cambridge via the guided busway. It will be one of the larger projects in the Healthy New Towns scheme, with 10,000 new homes built on land that was formerly owned by the military.

The site has several characteristics that fit well with our vision for the Food Hub. One of our goals is to address the health inequalities that exist from unequal access to good quality food. So, our values are closely aligned with the purpose of a Healthy New Town.

As a new development, we have the opportunity to make the Food Hub a defining feature of Northstowe. If the Food Hub was there from the beginning it would be well known by residents and would fit well into the structure of the town and other facilities and infrastructure.

It is also close enough to Cambridge that it will be accessible for Cambridge residents and small businesses that may currently be operating from the city centre. This would allow the Food Hub to service not just the immediate locale of  Northstowe.

Finally, there is significant value in establishing relationships with the organisations involved in the realisation of these developments. Who knows, maybe in the future every Healthy New Town will have its own Food Hub?


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