Oxford City Council and Grosvenor: developing and NHS-healthy new town

Barton Park is a new 885 home development which is being built alongside the existing community of Barton in the North East of Oxford.

The development is being delivered by Barton Oxford LLP, a joint venture between Oxford City Council and Grosvenor Britain and Ireland, and has had a strong masterplan in place with a commitment to enabling good health and wellbeing from the outset.

In 2016, Barton was selected as one of the 10 national NHS Healthy New Town demonstrator sites and a partnership was established between Oxford City Council, Grosvenor, Oxfordshire County Council Public Health and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to take this work forward.

We established an incredibly productive partnership with NHS England, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council to shape this Healthy New Town. With new homes, a new park, sporting facilities and a new community hub, Barton Park will be an exceptional, integrated neighbourhood offering amenities and community services to new and existing residents.

Alex Robinson, Director at Grosvenor Britain and Ireland

The Barton Healthy New Town project has three key work streams: developing new models of care, improving health through the built environment, and community activation.

A comprehensive report was compiled to capture the outcomes and achievements of the first year and this can be accessed through the Barton Healthy New Town website.

The three key pieces of learning from the first phase have been:

1. The importance of carrying out in-depth analysis of the assets and health needs of existing and future residents through local research
This has provided a more localised, up-todate picture of existing and future residents’ health needs and has identified community and physical assets already in place that support and promote good health that can be built on. Having this type of research is particularly useful in informing priorities, and service and facility planning when there is a new community being established alongside an existing area. It also allows for the regenerative effect a new development can have on an established community to be more targeted and effective.

2. Community engagement
A clear focus from the outset on integration between the existing and new communities has been essential and this has been built into all the work streams to make sure that this remains a priority. A community grants scheme funded by the project enabled community led solutions tacking the local health issues identified in the research to be piloted by providing early investment and support. In testing out community activities and increasing community capacity ready for new residents to join. It’s been a positive opportunity for community groups to help come up with their own ideas and solutions as this increased engagement, participation and long term sustainability of the initiative piloted. One of the funded pilots has secured £204,326 worth of Big Lottery funding for over three years to deliver the Appointment Buddies project, upskilling local volunteers to support older isolated residents to access health and wellbeing activities and health services.

3. The benefits of carrying out a health impact assessment (HIA)
This helped identify the impact on health of the new development and any opportunities for retrospective enhancements to the original masterplan. An important point to highlight from the learning in Barton is around trying to ensure that infrastructure to support good health, such as parks and access routes, are in place ready for new residents, to capture the ‘window of opportunity’ for encouraging healthy behaviours.

Following the success of the Barton HIA, the project has now been able to secure the inclusion of a Health Impact Assessment policy within the draft Oxford Local Plan 2036.

We are delighted that our new housing development at Barton Park is one of NHS England’s Healthy New Towns, enabling us to offer so much more than just 885 much-needed homes for the city. Not only has it enabled us to build healthy living into the fabric of our masterplan, it has also been a catalyst to tackle health inequalities faced by the established Barton community, by providing improved health and community facilities. Importantly, it has also enabled us – through joint working between the city council, Grosvenor, Oxfordshire County Council Public Health, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Barton residents – to identify where the most positive impact can be made and how it can be made sustainable in the long term to support integration between the two communities.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services, Oxford City Council

Barton NHS Healthy New Town is a great example of what can be achieved when partners work together to create a health enabling environment. There are real opportunities for doing things differently with this development that will benefit not only new residents who will move to the area but the existing communities as well. Oxfordshire County Council is delighted to be able to support the project through its planning and public health teams and is looking forward to being able to apply the learning from this project in other areas.

Bev Hindle, Strategic Director for Communities, Oxfordshire County Council