‘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