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Healthy New Towns

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September 2018 Update

Darlington Healthy New Town (HNT) has created its own HNT design principles based on a wide evidence base and will be using these to guide its review of planning applications within the context of the developing Local Plan. These are aimed at improving the overall quality of new housing developments and the role these can play in supporting local people to keep healthy and active, to encourage spaces for social interaction, to be connected to local services and jobs and to encourage healthy and sustainable ways of movement across the borough.

Please see the attached guide explaining the 6 healthy new town design principles [pdf document] and the evidence base behind these.

March 2018 Update

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HNT Darlington was very pleased to host a digital event recently which showcased some of the potential opportunities for digitally enhanced care that could be adopted in Darlington as part of the Healthy New Towns Programme. Darlington is one of 10 sites nationally looking at creative and forward-looking ways of improving health and wellbeing for its population through housing and the environment, through re-designing care services and through harnessing the benefits of digital delivery of care. The recent event specifically focussed on the ‘digital’ opportunities and the HNT team was delighted to see a very good turnout including technology providers, healthcare providers, social care, patients and citizens, academics and patient involvement organisations.

These ideas are being considered by the Digital working group within Healthy New Towns and further updates on progress will be released in due course.

We wish to thank all participants who attended the event and contributed ideas and we look forward to developing our action plan together.

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 to take part in this programme over the next couple of years.

Healthy New Towns is about:

  • Enabling local authorities, the NHS, housing developers and other partners 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.
  • Harnessing the benefits of digital technology in how care is delivered and in how information is provided to citizens allowing care practitioners to manage workload but also empowering patients to have more control and involvement in their care.
  • 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 well-attended Stakeholder Event was held in June 2017 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.
  • Access the Housing and Regeneration slides from the stakeholder event [pdf document]


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  • 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.
  • Access the Community Development slides from the stakeholder event [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 has been providing a Bike-ability scheme from September 2017 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.
  • Access the New Models of Care slides from the stakeholder event [pdf document]
  • An early first step is the local acute trust realigning its community services to clusters of practices for example district nurses, community matrons for example. Work is ongoing to establish what should be delivered at GP practice level, what needs to be provided at hub or cluster level (a group of practices working together) 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.
  • 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 for example, by phone, app, text, email for example. 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 (for example 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.
  • Access the Digital Enablement slides from the stakeholder event [pdf document]
  • We also hope to be able to bring telecare data (for example 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

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. Access the evaluation slides from the stakeholder event [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 [email protected].

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: