Oakfield wins 'Building for a Healthy Life' award

For existing communities, a new development being built in their area can be a daunting prospect. People wonder about how it will affect local facilities and what the changes will mean for them. Building for a Healthy Life, an initiative by the housing industry, looks to address these concerns by creating a set of standards that developers can work to. These standards not only consider how a new community will integrate with existing ones nearby, but also gives thought to how the development can support residents to live healthy lives. 

In judging for the award the panel considered elements such as integration with the local community, how loneliness is tackled and how people are encouraged to go outside and walk or cycle. 

At Oakfield, we’re tackling loneliness by creating a neighbourhood where people can come together. Homes are designed with front doors positioned side by side, and garden fences are lower so that neighbours can get to know each other. Shared gardens create a space where people can spend time together in nature, growing vegetables and flowers, and the developments landscaped park features playparks for children and benches where people can sit for a chat. Oakfield’s hub building Forest View will have an indoor community space where people can meet for hobby clubs like reading and crafts and can accommodate small children’s parties. 

Intergenerational living and the benefit it brings to people of all ages has also been a focus at Oakfield. The development will include age-in-place cottages, homes designed to adapt to meet the needs of residents as they get older, enabling people to stay in their homes and continue being part of the community for longer. We’ll also have apartments designated to those aged 55+ and designed for a variety of accessibility needs. These homes will be spread throughout Oakfield and sit alongside larger family homes so that people of all ages and life stages can live side by side.

To support people to live healthier lives, Oakfield will feature lots of walking and cycling routes, with ebike charging points in bike sheds to encourage people to cycle rather than drive. These routes link up with those in the broader community, making it easier for people to reach local amenities and integrate.

Connecting residents with wildlife and nature is important for mental wellbeing as well as physical.

Oakfield’s park will feature a wildflower meadow and has taken guidance from the RHS’ Perfect for Pollinators plant list to attract a variety of birds and insects. The site will also feature over 300 trees of different varieties, and alongside bat and swift boxes built onto homes will create habitats for a range of wildlife. Hornbeam hedges also create highways for hedgehogs and other small mammals to move around. 

“It’s fantastic to be recognised by Design for Homes with this award. It is testament to Nationwide’s commitment to creating a sustainable and community-focused housing development which will better the lives of those who live in it. We hope our new approach to creating community-focused, more environmentally-friendly homes will be the start of a blueprint for new build homes across the UK and we will be sharing all of our learnings and plans from this development in order to help create positive change.” - Sara Bennison, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Nationwide Building Society.