The team exploring Elsmbrook

Field trip to Bicester and Banbury, September 2019

Our September knowledge exchange workshop kicked off with a visit to Bicester to hear about the Bicester Healthy New Town project. Caroline Clapson and Rosie Rowe of Cherwell District Council. 

Bicester’s approach has been to design-in health from the outset, aiming to create a place where sustainable and healthy living becomes the norm. High-quality local services, access to green space, and the provision of allotments are just some of the ways that Bicester is addressing its health challenges – including obesity, mental health, physical inactivity and an ageing population – through an increased quality of the built and natural environment.

After meeting with Caroline and Rosie, the team visited Elmsbrook, one of the Healthy New Town developments. We were particularly impressed by the high spec of the houses, low energy usage, outdoor gym and plentiful green space (which makes up 40% of the site). 

Allotments at Elmsbrook

The afternoon took us to Banbury, where we visited Park Gardens Retirement Living Scheme, an extra care retirement housing scheme. The newly opened scheme’s manager, Georgina O’Connell, gave us a tour of Park Gardens, which comes complete with in-house restaurant, gym and hair salon. Although the majority of apartments are for private sale, there are also opportunities to purchase through shared ownership.

Visiting Park Gardens Exta Care Home

Park Gardens reflects the growing need for innovative and high-quality housing for the UK’s ageing population. 

POSTED BY Dr Mel Nowicki

Dr Mel Nowicki is a Lecturer in Urban Geography at Oxford Brookes University. Her research interests focus on housing inequality and stigma. Her doctoral research explored the impact of the bedroom tax and the criminalisation of squatting in England and Wales. More recently, she has conducted research in London and Dublin with formerly homeless residents of new social housing built using modular construction methods.