Green Sky Thinking 2016

In Spring 2016 Greengage undertook some original research into the current state of designing for Health and Wellbeing in the built environment. We identified that a knowledge gap and lack of quantitative evidence was seen as the key barrier to uptake of H&W principles. With this in mind, our Green Sky Thinking event focussed on sharing approaches undertaken by Grosvenor and Greengage to help progress thinking on the topic.

The packed event at London South Bank University saw attendees from a range of developers, investors, planners, architects, engineers and sustainability practices, engage in a thought provoking discussion about the quantification of health and wellbeing design.

We explored some of the other findings of the industry research, for example, it was found that cost uplift is seen as the least likely barrier to uptake and local authorities must develop policies to ensure community level health and wellbeing is adopted across the board.

Emily Hamilton Sustainability Manager for Grosvenor Britain and Ireland provided an overview of the Grosvenor Living cities philosophy. ‘Living cities’ is the overarching approach at the core of how the business operates, which helps Grosvenor “aim to create, to invest in and to manage properties and places that contribute to the enduring success of cities”.

To help Grosvenor put their ‘Living cities’ philosophy into practice, they have identified the attributes which they believe characterise cities that are truly sustainable. The attributes were developed with input from staff, stakeholders and leading city experts from around the world. The list is not prescriptive, but rather a guide that Grosvenor can use to understand how its activity contributes to the enduring success of cities.

To understand how this philosophy is translated into action, Adam Baring, Development Manager at Grosvenor, presented the Barton Park project, a joint venture with Oxford City Council. The 94-acre site will provide 885 new homes, 40% of which will be affordable, social housing.  Health and wellbeing was very much at the heart of the master planning at Barton and the scheme can potentially provide a great testbed to monitor how the built environment can impact health and wellbeing. This could provide useful learnings and design principles that could support the effective shaping of future towns.

The event was rounded off with a presentation of Greengage’s work on the Cambridge Community Stadium and Sporting Village. We employed a quantification methodology on a proposed development in Cambridge, as part of a joint venture between Grosvenor and the Universities Superannuation Scheme. The scheme incorporates numerous sporting facilities for use by the local community, all of which have a health and financial equivalent benefit.

The approach stems from research conducted by Sport England, which resulted in a tool being developed that could quantify the health benefit of sports participation. The tool compares the activity levels of a group of participants achieved as a result of the intervention, against the normal activity levels of a group of people of the same demographic. As a result we were able to present the number of healthy years (Quality Adjusted Life Years) and the associated cost saving to the NHS.

The audience were very engaged and excited about the future application of such an approach. As a result, Greengage are looking at opportunities to expand the methodology to other uses, addressing questions such as “how do facilities like community centres that encourage better social cohesion quantitatively impact on health benefits?”. Alternatively, Health Impact Assessment could in future, benefit from the introduction of more quantitative measurement, such as the QALY methodology, in order to assess impacts.