England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, paid a visit to Oxfordshire on 18 November.
He joined representatives from Oxfordshire County Council, Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, community groups, A2Dominion housing association and Grosvenor on a tour of projects across Oxford and Bicester that form part of the wider healthy place shaping programme.
The day included stops at Grosvenor’s Barton Park development, including Barton Park School and Barton Sports Pavilion, in addition to Barton Community Centre, the Elmsbrook development in Bicester and Kingsmeadow.
Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I am delighted to have been able to welcome Professor Whitty to the county to showcase our health place shaping work.
“Tackling inequalities and creating healthy communities is a top priority here in Oxfordshire, so it is great to see our work receive recognition from the chief medical officer for England.”
Councillor Phil Chapman, Cherwell District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Healthy Communities, said: “Healthy place shaping is an approach which combines community activation, different models of care, and a built environment which promotes healthy life choices.
“The work that’s been done on this in Bicester for a number of years is leading the way in creating better outcomes for our residents, and we’ve since adopted it across the district. We are absolutely delighted to have been able to showcase this important work to the Chief Medical Officer.”
Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport at Oxford City Council, said: “Barton Healthy New Town aims to create an innovative and sustainable way to improve health and wellbeing and was showcased at the World Health Organisation’s Healthy Cities Conference in 2018. The overall aim is to give all residents equal opportunities to achieve good physical and mental health outcomes.
“As well as creating a built environment that has health and exercise designed in, we’ve got new ways of working with healthcare professionals, and we’re supporting the community to get more active in its own wellbeing.
“Grant funding has provided things like a breakfast club for children and young people and a Community Cupboard to improve food access, and there has been more targeted healthcare support for people with long-term conditions and high users of healthcare.”
Dan Leveson, executive director for Oxfordshire at the NHS Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board, said: “Professor Whitty’s visit was welcome recognition of what we can achieve to improve people’s health and wellbeing through close working across health and care, schools, businesses, volunteers, housing developers and academics.”
Rupert Biggin, Project Director, Grosvenor Property UK, said: “As a master developer for Barton Park, one of the 10 NHS Healthy New Towns, we laid the groundwork for healthy living by building the infrastructure that would encourage walking, cycling and active lifestyles right at the start of the project.
“By partnering with the council to understand and respond to what local people wanted, we believe Barton Park shows how new places can create healthier and better-connected communities.”
Steve Hornblow, Head of Special Projects (North West Bicester) at A2Dominion, said: “Everyone at A2Dominion was delighted to welcome Professor Whitty to our award-winning Elmsbrook development at North West Bicester.
“England’s chief medical officer is one of the leading figures in promoting healthier living, and his visit provided a great opportunity for us to showcase our commitment to building sustainable homes for the future and ensuring that health and wellbeing is a lasting legacy of our communities.”
Healthy place shaping in Oxfordshire aims to create sustainable, well-designed and thriving communities where all residents are supported to live healthier and happier lives.
“The experience and learnings generated by the Healthy New Town pilots have informed Oxfordshire’s approach to healthy place shaping, and it is now being delivered across the county to reduce health inequalities.