New Chelmsford housing scheme could offer residents free bus passes

Residents moving into a planned 800-home development in Chelmsford could be given free bicycles and bus passes as part of a pilot to ensure healthy living.

A site in west Chelmsford to be known as Warren Farm, which is earmarked for 800 homes, has been chosen as a pilot development for the new housing developer accreditation scheme.

The scheme has been developed with the aim of encouraging housebuilders to promote better wellbeing and health in their developments.

Led by Chelmsford City Council and supported by the Essex Local Delivery Pilot, Active Essex, Essex County Council (ECC), and Sport England, the Livewell accreditation recognises key elements that make places healthier, such as community areas and activities, green and blue spaces, healthy eating options and the opportunity for active travel.

Jeremy Potter, speaking at an ECC health board meeting on January 29, said: “What we want to do in the masterplan was think about how you can act on these principles so we have linear parks, active open spaces, active travel so we are trying to encourage people through travel planning so each of the residents will get an annual season ticket for the bus, or a bike.

“So you will get a welcome pack as a new resident.”

The Livewell accreditation will award developers though a bronze, silver or gold accreditation.

Local authorities across Essex are now being encouraged to adopt it for formal guidance as part of their own planning process.

Mr Potter added: “We will implement health impact into development at the earliest possible stage and embed this into masterplans and the thing which is the incentive here is developers love a flag and an award to be able to add value by being able to say it’s a Livewell accreditation scheme.”

Gavin Jones, CEO of ECC, said: “If you think of Essex as a county one of the bigger challenges we have is the sheer scale of housing growth.

“We have to be realistic that many developers have a very specific build model which are not compatible with our wider aspiration of place shaping.

“The more we can get districts around the county sharing this kind of approach would be really helpful because we are stronger together when we speak to developers.

“It would be really great if we can develop this in on a Essex-wide basis and sell the benefits of premium value to them through these kind of schemes as well.

“And then it is fantastic that health and wellbeing is playing a role in this way in the physical shaping of the county as well.”

Graham Thomas, of the Essex Planning Officers Association (EPOA), said: “The Livewell accreditation scheme which is supported by EPOA provides a practical way for developers and housebuilders to demonstrate that they have been able to incorporate the wider elements of health and wellbeing benefits throughout their design, from meeting the high-quality home standard, creating environments that support cohesive communities and are improving access to education, skills and employment to promoting environmental sustainability in their developments.

“I would recommend the Livewell accreditation scheme to all who want to build new homes in Essex, and all to those people who are looking to buy a new home.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter