Healthy New Towns

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Healthy New Towns Darlington

What is Healthy New Towns?

Healthy New Towns is an NHS England sponsored programme which is about building healthy communities. Darlington is one of 10 sites selected nationally take part in this programme over the next couple of years.

Healthy New Towns is about:

  • Enabling local authorities, the NHS and housing developers to work more closely together to improve health and wellbeing
  • Promoting better health and illness prevention through the way that housing and the public realm are developed – using housing and the public space as a contributor to health improvement
  • Re-thinking how health and care services should be provided around the needs of populations
  • Creating good examples that can be used elsewhere.

Why Darlington?

Darlington’s Healthy New Towns project has focussed on an area including Red Hall, Burdon Hill and Lingfield Point - collectively known as the Eastern Growth Zone. It includes some new development and some refurbishment of existing homes.

The Eastern Growth Zone in Darlington was chosen due to the economic and housing development opportunities the area presented but along with some significant challenges in terms of health inequalities compared to the rest of Darlington. These include:

  • High premature mortality rates
  • Higher worklessness than other areas of Darlington
  • Significantly high emergency hospital admissions
  • A significantly high number of residents with a life-limiting condition

It was felt that by Darlington organisations working collaboratively together, much more would be possible in creating healthy homes, and environment and models of care more fit for the future. However, we are clear that whatever lessons we learn in our work, these should be replicated across the borough of Darlington and beyond. We will continue to collaborate with all 9 other Healthy New Town sites during the programme and contribute to and share learning.

What is being done?

The work has been split into three areas, known as workstreams.

  • Regeneration and Housing
  • New Models of Care
  • Digital Technology Enablement

A recent well-attended Stakeholder Event was held to give organisations in Darlington an opportunity to see what is happening in the programme and a chance to influence its future development. The presentation slides used at this event can be accessed by using the following links:

Here is some information about what’s happening in each workstream:

Housing & Regeneration Workstream Aims

  • Encourage the building of homes that assist citizens to stay informed, live healthily and maintain independence.
  • Use the built environment & public realm as a health improvement tool that:
    • encourages healthier lifestyle choices and exercise
    • aids connections within and between communities, social cohesion and sense of community
    • harnesses natural benefits of green and blue space
    • improves access to employment opportunities and employability
  • Community development to create resilient and empowered communities

How will this be seen – some examples:

  • Development of an Early Exemplar development at the Red Hall ‘Stables’ site by Keepmoat Homes that will reflect Darlington’s Healthy New Town design principles [pdf document] – including homes that will be built to lifetime home principles enabling the houses to adapt to the changing needs of residents over their life course, keeping them as independent as possible for as long as possible


  • Significant investment in Red Hall estate to improve the image and attractiveness of the estate after extensive consultation with the community – this is both in terms of the council homes themselves but also in the public realm – in footpaths, cycle ways, a new Play Area and an Outdoor Gym is being created along with new benches to provide resting places that will encourage exercise. These have all come out of consultation.
  • To access the Housing and Regeneration slides from the stakeholder event click here [pdf document]


Before 1 Before 2


After 1 After 2

New Builds

New 1 New 2

  • Community development and engagement activities – some examples are: establishment of Red Hall Friends, aim to develop Community Champions, a Youth Project is being started, Community Events are now being held quite regularly and the community is starting to lead them itself, Investment in Learning and Skills training, Community newsletter, Street Champions, Holiday Hunger project at the Red Hall Primary School that provides lunches but also provides meal preparation guidance to parents and Step Forward employment programme aimed at long term unemployed.
  • To access the Community Development slides from the stakeholder event click here [pdf document]


  • We are planning a Sports Programme at Red Hall to encourage healthy lifestyles and behaviours and to improve uptake of activities
  • The primary school will be starting to offer a Bike-ability scheme from September with the aim that all children leaving primary school can ride a bike (gained cycling proficiency) and measures are being looked at to promote access to an affordable bike

New Models of Care Workstream Aims

  • There has been a long-standing ambition for integrated services in Darlington – including the re-design of care services around local populations – bringing better integration of primary care with community, mental health, social care and voluntary sector services.  
  • There is also a move towards encouraging self-management and empowerment of patients

How will this be seen?

  • This is at an early stage but from a resident/patient perspective, the idea is to ‘wrap’ care around them in their locality where possible, and to be able to deal with patients escalating needs in the community without the resident having to resort to emergency admissions in hospital. This will mainly benefit the frail elderly population and those with multiple long-term conditions, who need better integration and continuity of care.
  • To access the New Models of Care slides from the stakeholder event click here [pdf document]
  • An early first step is the local acute trust realigning its community services to clusters of practices e.g. district nurses, community matrons etc. Work is ongoing to establish what should be delivered at GP practice level, what needs to be provided at hub or cluster level and what makes more sense to deliver once across Darlington.
  • The CCG is developing a programme of health coaching to facilitate behaviour change to support clinical staff to empower patients/residents to take more control and self-manage; this will also be assisted by the development of social prescribing locally.
  • We are undertaking some exciting work with Durham University to formulate a model that helps us predict planned and unplanned care needs for our local populations better, so that in turn integrated teams can be planned around those needs.

Digital Enablement Workstream Aim

  • Harnessing the advantages of digital approaches to help manage demand on care services and assist patients to self-care and take greater control of their condition

How will this be seen?

  • We are collaborating with Inhealthcare to apply digital technology to care pathways to enable self-care and self-management.  Importantly, this enables the patient to stay at home (they are provided with any equipment/teaching as required) and take their own measurements, send these simply to their clinical team and receive instructions back.

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  • This is achieved by the patient choosing the method they are comfortable using e.g. by phone, app, text, email etc. The clinician can interpret the results and the information can go straight into the patient record as appropriate. For most patients they can safely avoid having to make trips to hospital, they learn more about their condition and what ‘normal’ is and they have much more freedom because they can be anywhere (e.g. abroad on holiday) when they send their results through.

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  • This frees up staff time to concentrate on ‘sicker patients’ who need longer time in clinic. It has been popular with those making use of this service so far as they are still connected into their clinical team.
  • To access the Digital Enablement slides from the stakeholder event click here [pdf document]
  • We hope to develop the information exchange (as described above) to provide opportunities for greater teleconsulting in due course e.g. patient to clinician and also clinician to clinician.   We also hope to be able to bring telecare data (e.g. from supported housing for the elderly) together with telehealth data to support maintaining people in their own homes where possible. Links to local care homes are already proving a really popular service with these providers who value the more direct support from clinical teams.

Looking Forward

2016/17 was about getting the project team in place and establishing collaborative working arrangements, plans and making funding submissions. We have been given the green light for our Healthy New Town delivery plan and so the second half of 2017 will be about moving to further implementation and increasing the scope and reach of the programme by working with stakeholders.

We will also be working with FUSE, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, to begin to scope how we can evaluate this programme. To access the evaluation slides from the stakeholder event click here [pdf document]

How can YOU play a part?

The ideas above have been generated from previous consultation exercises. If you have ideas, then please get in touch via


As well as our Twitter page, we also have a YouTube channel where you can watch videos of Healthy New Towns activities. Below are some of the videos you will find on our YouTube channel. Click here to find more videos [external link].

The Healthy New Towns programme is sponsored by NHS England [external link]. Darlington is one of ten 'demonstrator sites'. The Council acts as lead organisation for the project in Darlington, in partnership with public, private and voluntary sector bodies including: