‘Urban Wellbeing Zones` could deliver a £15bn boost to the UK economy

Date Published 12 November 2018

Putting a greater emphasis on wellbeing in urban design could yield dividends for everybody, says British Land, improving the nation's mental health and giving the economy a £15.3bn boost by 2050.

A study commissioned by the real estate giant and co-authored by a former Treasury economist argues that design for wellbeing on a large scale 'could have significant and positive impacts in several ways, including boosting productivity in the workplace, reducing absenteeism and bringing down the NHS and welfare bills.'

The 'Design for Life' report cites figures from the Centre for Urban Design & Mental Health which shine a light on the particular mental health challenge in our cities: Urban dwellers – who account for two-thirds of the UK population – have an almost 40% higher risk of depression, over 20% more anxiety, and double the risk of schizophrenia, in addition to more loneliness, isolation and stress.
'Well designed environments have a material positive impact on mental health,' claim researchers. And there are some practical steps that planners, policy-makers and property developers can take to make cities better places to live and work in.

Incentivising local areas to put good design at the heart of their regeneration plans – such as the inclusion of outdoor gyms, urban parks, and building design – could 'dramatically improve peoples' physical health, wellbeing and mental health'.

British Land has attempted to put a sterling value on wellbeing and good urban design, resulting in that £15.3bn headline figure. Broken down, report authors believe that the introduction of their Urban Wellbeing Zones could lead to: £3.6bn of savings from less reliance on the NHS and welfare bills; a £5.4bn productivity increase due to less people taking time off work for stress related issues, and a £6.3bn boost in economic output from more people being in employment.

Source: Prime Resi - September 2018