Healthy City Design International 2023

24 November 2023

This year’s Healthy City Design International Conference took place in Liverpool at the Royal College of Physicians. A fitting venue for an event focussed on sharing new research, innovative practice and progressive policy ideas on how to design economically and ecologically sustainable cities to enhance citizen health and wellbeing. There was a fantastic line-up of experts from around the world, including our very own David Martin, presenting innovative projects, best practice and insights to help contribute to new thinking about how cities and town centres are evolving.

Design, community & health

We were delighted that M Worldwide was selected to speak again this year and had the opportunity to contribute to this important global dialogue on the relationship between city design and health. MWorldwide’s experience in high street transformation, and in particular with organisations that are investing in the high street to provide face-to-face services, has given us an insider perspective on how to create sustainable design that supports the development of healthy local communities. 

David spoke in detail about an exciting recent M Worldwide project with a primary focus of investment in local communities. The Newcastle Building Society has taken a forward-thinking approach by partnering local authorities and other community organisations to improve access to financial advice. The organisation brought MWorldwide on board to look at how the organisation can play a key role in actively supporting public amenities while fostering a sense of wider community collaboration and cohesion across its city centre hubs and its local community satellite sites.

Regeneration for community growth

Libraries and other community spaces are being regenerated by providing a range of easy-to-access local services under one roof which all have a shared purpose of improving the lives of the local community. Libraries have been given a new lease of life along the lines of the Finnish model which aims to provide information freely for everyone, irrespective of social status, age or place of residence. Gyms, training, workspaces, community cafes and meeting places have become more central to local communities with the addition of new services that compound footfall. Community groups have been given access to spaces to meet and grow.

Our options and choices are governed by our finances, and it is well documented that income and financial health can directly influence mental and physical wellbeing. Financial advice hubs in the centre of the community not only provide access to experts and specialists but are an important pillar to support and underpin local amenities, be it library or YMCA, as well as being integral to a wider symbiotic community ecosystem and shared purpose.

The presentation shared learnings on the impact that Newcastle Building Society has had on the wellbeing of local people by adopting  a community-first approach. The organisation is succeeding  in supporting the financial health of individual members of the community, which in turn supports their mental and physical health. It is also taking a leading role by becoming integral to sustaining viable, valuable, and relevant community physical assets at the heart of the local high street.