Putting health at the heart of the com­mu­nity

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

end ( only about 850 have been built so far), and 30,000 new jobs, over the next 15 years.

Among the many new hous­ing de­vel­op­ments that will emerge in Ebb­s­fleet, which is best known for its sta­tion’s high speed links to London and Paris, is Cas­tle Hill in Ebb­s­fleet Val­ley, a scheme by Bar­ratt and David Wil­son Homes. More than 6,500 homes will be set in a chalk quarry three times the size of the one that houses nearby Blue­wa­ter shop­ping cen­tre. There will be every­thing from Ken­tish cot­tages around vil­lage greens, to large detached houses over­look­ing new parks. Prices start at £275,000 for twobed­room apart­ments.

Else­where in the gar­den city, Coun­try­side’s Spring­head Park will have homes set around a 22 acre park, which cost from £220,000. Fur­ther trans­for­ma­tion awaits in an area of old in­dus­trial waste­land op­ti­misti­cally rechris­tened the Swanscombe Penin­sula, which is the site for the pro­posed £3.5bil­lion London Para­mount theme park set to open in 2023.

The lo­cal to­pog­ra­phy poses all sorts of prob­lems, in­clud­ing the divi­sion that comes from hav­ing ex­ist­ing com­mu­ni­ties based at the top of the area’s lo­cal chalk quar­ries and the new ones at the bot­tom, ex­plains Kevin McGeough, di­rec­tor of the healthy new town at Ebb­s­fleet. “We have to make sure that old and new com­mu­ni­ties work to­gether. Much of the space is cur­rently in­ac­ces­si­ble, path­ways are over­grown and iso­lated, and access to the river is non-ex­is­tent. We want to break down the so­cial and phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers and en­cour­age com­mu­nity ac­ti­va­tion,” he says.

Some­times the sim­plest in­no­va­tions can have a big ef­fect, such as giv­ing move­ment-mea­sur­ing Fit­bits to 120 res­i­dents. This is in order to get peo­ple mov­ing, and also use the data to learn more about how res­i­dents use and move around their en­vi­ron­ment. “It has helped hugely with co­he­sion,” says McGeough. “Peo­ple meet up to go on walks or runs to­gether and it’s a col­lab­o­ra­tive way of in­form­ing us how to de­sign this new town. We can see where the phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers are and open up new path­ways, parks and lakes that have been closed for decades.”

With health at the cen­tre of the de­sign of these new towns, there will nat­u­rally be all sorts of new fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing a “health in­no­va­tion cen­tre”. But preven­tion rather than cure is key, too, which means get­ting peo­ple out of their cars and on to their feet or bikes and en­cour­ag­ing healthy eat­ing.

In­spired by the In­cred­i­ble Ed­i­ble Tod­mor­den project in West York­shire, in which vol­un­teers grow fruit and veg, run foodie events and cook­ery demon­stra­tions for the whole com­mu­nity, Ed­i­ble Ebb­s­fleet will plant fruit and veg on every street. “It’s free and avail­able to any­one. We’re en­cour­ag­ing de­vel­op­ers to con­tinue the idea. Redrow is plant­ing 20 fruit trees in the coming weeks,” says McGeough, re­fer­ring to Redrow’s new Ebb­s­fleet Green scheme, where 30 per cent of the de­vel­op­ment is pub­lic open space. Homes start at £379,995 for two bed­rooms.

The Govern­ment’s 10 pi­lot “healthy new towns” vary in their lo­ca­tion and

Ed­ding­ton, the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge’s de­vel­op­ment, above; Berke­ley’s Wood­berry Down in London, main

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