Blog: Levelling-up health and wellbeing in real estate

Oct 17, 2022

The notion that health and wellbeing is intrinsically linked to the levelling-up agenda has grown in prominence over the past few years, with the global pandemic reinforcing the connection between human health and productivity.

Central to this belief is the somewhat sobering fact that we spend some two thirds of our lives at work. It therefore goes without saying that the extent to which we are able to lead happy, fulfilling and productive lives is directly influenced by the experiences we have while in the workplace.

Gone are the days when people are welded to their desks; we live in a world where people want a more balanced life with the choice to go to the gym in their lunchbreak or take a break with a colleague to grab a coffee and have a walk.

Focus on placemaking

At Scarborough Group, we no longer simply provide a workspace; the design of the wider environment is front and centre of our decision making. Across all of our developments we strive to provide green open spaces for relaxing and outdoor amenities that provide opportunities for physical activity and social networking.

This level of amenity is necessary to match the level of freedom many have become accustomed to since the surge in hybrid working. Many have felt the benefits of being able to sit in the sunshine on a clear day, for example, or pop out for a walk between meetings. Businesses need to embrace this level flexibility to ensure people find the workplace fulfilling and worthwhile.

At Thorpe Park in Leeds for example, the 5,500-strong business community benefits from 150-acres of parkland which is connected to miles of cycle and running paths, centred around a 350,000 sq ft retail and leisure centre. Middlewood Locks in Salford is equally as impressive, having created a walkable, canal-side neighbourhood whereby 20% of the 25-acre city centre mixed-use scheme has been given over to public realm, which is regularly used to host community events such as yoga classes and open air movie theatres.

Not only do these interventions have the benefit of providing a calm, uplifting environment, it also supports positive mental health by reducing stress and anxiety which, in turn, improves cognitive function and stimulates creativity and productivity.

Middlewood Locks, Salford

Large-scale health improvements

On a much larger scale, we have embarked on a mission at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park to help deliver a tangible legacy of whole-population improvements in health and wellbeing by creating a masterplan that seeks to bring together expertise from academia, elite sport, the NHS, and public and private sector organisations. Already home to well-established sporting and academic facilities, such as The English Institute of Sport Sheffield, iceSheffield and the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, the vision for Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is to build upon the benefits brought by these exceptional facilities to develop a diverse and active life sciences park focused upon health, wellbeing, sports and activity, accessible by all.

Among the next wave of occupiers to have a presence on the Park is Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which has recently benefitted from the Government’s Levelling-Up Fund to deliver the National Centre for Child Health Technology; a ground-breaking facility that will deliver the world’s most advanced integrated healthcare system for children. Canon Medical Systems Europe has also recently started on site with its Park Community Arena, which will become the UK’s first affordable net-zero carbon built sports, healthcare and community arena featuring an integrated Medical Diagnostic Centre.

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