Report reveals how trailblazers in the built environment are addressing the UK’s health crisis

© Luke O’Donovan

Future of London has released the final report bringing together research and recommendations from its Healthy Neighbourhoods: Working Together programme

Since Covid-19 hit the UK, the country’s already stark health inequalities have only become more apparent. Future of London (FoL) – the capital’s network for housing, development, and regeneration – has released its new Healthy Neighbourhoods: Working Together report, with practical insights and research on how the built environment and health sectors can collaborate more effectively to improve health outcomes for communities in London and beyond.

Through research, case studies and workshops involving hundreds of representatives from across the health and built environment, the report offers clear solutions and tools to facilitate collaborative working between the sectors.

The health and built environment sectors can collaborate to address shared challenges

FoL’s research found three main barriers to effective collaboration in this space: the different, often conflicting, timescales and boundaries between health and built environment projects; a lack of shared language and overuse of industry jargon that hampers common understanding; and the need to emphasise the role that the built environment can play in impacting health.

The research found that two challenges common for both sectors can actually act as major catalysts to spark creativity and and promote partnership: limited budgets, and the need to improve trust within communities. Through a series of case studies, FoL has revealed places that are having an impact on health and wellbeing while solving other urban challenges through progressive partnerships. These provide practical inspiration for other organisations in London and beyond who are looking to achieve better health outcomes.

Providing practical tools to address health inequalities

‘It is clear that the UK’s health crisis cannot be solved by the health sector alone. This report shows that there is enormous opportunity for collaboration that ultimately makes our communities better places to live. This report is all about the practical things we can do to build more effective partnerships to realise the potential we know the built environment can have on health’ said Nicola Mathers, Chief Executive at Future of London.

Michael Parsons, Portfolio Manager at Impact on Urban Health, commented: ‘Health inequalities can’t be improved just by looking at a GP’s surgery or just through the job centre, or by any one organisation making a decision. It involves a broad set of actors, from housing associations, to planners, to community and grass roots groups.’

The report’s glossary and series of concise, defined recommendations acts as a toolkit for collaboration to address health inequalities, with case studies covering a wide range of possibilities – from safe, accessible green space and allotments, to affordable homes and community leisure activities. Inspiring examples included come from Islington, Ealing, Barnet, and even New York.

The Health Neighbourhoods programme is sponsored by Montagu Evans, Mount Anvil and Pollard Thomas Edwards.

See the full report

ABOUT FUTURE OF LONDON: Future of London (FoL) helps build better cities through knowledge, networks and leadership – across disciplines, organisations and sectors. We are the capital’s independent network for regeneration, housing, infrastructure and economic development practitioners, with 5,000+ professionals using FoL as a hub for sector intelligence, connection and professional development, and a mandate to prepare the next wave of cross-sector city leaders.

Find out more about the Healthy Neighbourhoods programme here. See the full report here.

CONTACT: For queries, please contact Fran Lord, Head of Communications & Engagement, Future of London.