1 March 2023

Heatherwick Studio launches Health Street – a vision to bring health creation to the British high street

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With the NHS pushed to its limits and many high streets hollowing out, Heatherwick Studio is today calling for a new kind of health space right at the heart of urban communities. In a major new report, called Health Street, it sets out a vision for a radical approach to health creation based around community-led facilities on the local high street.

Download the report here.

A ‘Health Street’ combines public health, local business and social spaces in one familiar setting that feels completely different from normal clinical environments like a hospital or GP surgery. Instead of focusing on treating illness, it champions the idea of living well. 

Lisa Finlay, a partner at Heatherwick Studio and author of the report said:

“We want to create a new kind of place for health that’s convenient and welcoming. It’s about bringing life back to city centres and taking some pressure off national health care institutions.”

The vision behind Health Street was created in collaboration with experts in medicine, social care, place-making, real estate, data analytics, public policy and service design. The idea aims to address growing social inequalities and support new initiatives, such as Integrated Care Systems and social prescribing. It adopts the key principles of regenerative retail, supporting local aims and activities, rather than imposing any set programme.

“It starts by making use of spaces that already exist in town centres that need a fresh start and are really well connected to residential communities,” continued Lisa Finlay. “It’s then about building connections between charities, community groups, local business and health services, and providing a whole range of activities that might stretch from arts programmes, cooking classes, music studios and gardening to community diagnostics, dieticians and physio, or just socialising. This is a genuinely holistic approach to your health and wellbeing.”

The report outlines seven steps to creating a Health Street. From creating a ‘seed space’ in vacant or under-used buildings to growing interconnected services and activities which can welcome people in and spill-over onto the street. It includes a theoretical test scenario for a Health Street that could be created at Lister Gate in Nottingham.

Lisa Finlay presented her vision for turning Lister Gate in Nottingham into a Health Street at the launch event at Tiger Community Enterprise, Lister Gate, Nottingham.

Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, provided opening remarks before Suzannah Bedford, CEO and Creative Director of City Arts Nottingham, Dr Hugh Porter Clinical Director at Nottingham City Place Based Partnership (PBP) and Oliver Wood, Art Director at Beam Editions joined Lisa for a discussion about this new mission for the high street.