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Jan 9, 2019 | by Centre

Urban co-design for better wellbeing and health: Healthy New Town

On Monday, the NHS launched its Long Term Plan – with a focus on prevention, includes mental & physical health, community approaches, children and young people, and increased control for patients. This week’s guest blog looks at the Halton Lea Healthy New Town Partnership and how urban communities can be designed to benefit local health and wellbeing. It comes from Rhiannon Corcoran,  Professor of Psychology and Public Mental Health at the University of Liverpool and academic lead of our Community Wellbeing Evidence programme, and Graham Marshall, a practicing urban and landscape designer. Together they direct the Prosocial Place Research and Practice Programme and had the opportunity to work with Halton Lea Healthy New Town Partnership to undertake a Community Insights study. Here they describe their findings.

Halton Lea Healthy New Town: Community Insights

During the summer of 2017, Prosocial Place had the opportunity to work with the Halton Lea Healthy New Town Partnership (HNT) to undertake a Community Insights study.  Situated in the Liverpool City Region, it is one of the NHS’s 10 Healthy New Towns demonstrator sites spread around England.  

Meeting community needs to improve the health and wellbeing of residents

Using a pioneering urban co-design approach to place-making, our primary aim was to develop a collective understanding of how the urban environment can be improved to benefit the health and wellbeing of Halton residents. Working with Halton-based Wellbeing Enterprises Community Interest Company, we designed six deliberative, arts-based workshops with young people and adults. Our aim in delivering these workshops was to collate an understanding of the needs of the community, collecting ideas and messages about how the living environment can help to furnish those needs.

Prosocial Place undertook the study while the Community Wellbeing Evidence Programme was reviewing how place infrastructure can support wellbeing and the benefits of joint decision-making in communities. Its outcomes are entirely consistent with the findings of these reviews and with the emerging findings of Big Local.  Building on the Community Wellbeing Evidence Programme Theory of Change, the 12 recommendations coming out of the Community Insights study are summarised under the themes of People, Place and Power.


  1. A Well Place – a strategy that puts the needs of people first. Focused on the life course and establishing systems to periodically measure outcomes.
  2. A Safe Place – where to walk out is the preferred option because private car traffic does not dominate and spoil the experience.
  3. A Civil Place – where a social commons ethos is shared and where neighbourliness is encouraged.


  1. A Social Place – an audit of existing, under-used, missing and re-thought community assets
  2. A Meaningful Place – a strategic development framework that wraps around the ‘One Halton’ vision.
  3. A Balanced Place – a movement strategy that re-balances traffic through pedestrian prioritisation.
  4. A Market Place – an organic place fabric that provides opportunities and resources for business and individual development.
  5. My Place – where street names signal destinations, celebrating the culture and uniqueness of Halton; diminishing place stigma.
  6. An Ecological Place – reflecting a human habitat of choice with variety, activity and tranquillity, embedding the Prospects and Refuges that Appleton talked of.
  7. A Growing Place – where the under-used municipal green spaces of Halton accommodate the growth of fresh produce; making healthy food the norm through intergenerational food growing activity.
  8. A Lifetime Place – where homes for life are built for living within neighbourhoods where you’d choose to stay.


  1. A Democratic Place – where a Town Team can insure that joint decision-making becomes the One Halton norm.

How do places, spaces and people affect our wellbeing?

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