New Towns and Health – Celebrating the Anniversary of East Kilbride

As we mark the wonderful 75th anniversary of Scotland’s first new town, East Kilbride, it is worth highlighting the remarkable role that new towns play in promoting health and well-being.  

Developed in the aftermath of World War II, new towns like East Kilbride were envisioned as modern communities built with careful planning, aiming to improve the quality of life for their residents.  

This blog explores the health-focused aspects of new towns, focusing on East Kilbride’s amazing journey and how it has become an urban planning model that prioritises well-being. 

Holistic Urban Planning for Well-being 

An innovative approach to urban planning marked the creation of East Kilbride.  

A strong emphasis was placed on designing a healthy and sustainable living environment.  

The many green spaces, parks, and recreational areas aimed to encourage outdoor activities and physical fitness. These spaces provided opportunities for exercise, enhanced mental well-being, promoted social interactions, and contributed to a sense of community cohesion.  This provided a vast change in quality of living environments for those moving from the surrounding city and Glasgow tenements of the time. 

East Kilbride also boasted a well-connected and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, promoting active modes of transportation, such as walking and cycling.  

This encouraged residents to be physically active by reducing reliance on cars and improving air quality, and it also supported the Development Corporation’s commitment to sustainable transportation. 

Accessible Healthcare Facilities 

An essential aspect of any health-conscious community is accessible healthcare facilities.  

At the time, East Kilbride offered residents a comprehensive range of healthcare services, including well-equipped medical centres, hospitals, and specialised clinics. High-quality healthcare within the town ensured that residents had a number of medical centres ensuring early diagnosis, prevention, and timely treatment. 

A proactive approach was also taken to promoting healthy lifestyles through initiatives such as public health campaigns, education programs, and regular health check-ups.  

The Development Corporation encouraged residents to adopt healthier habits and provided resources and support for individuals and families seeking positive life changes. 

Community Engagement and Social Support 

The success of East Kilbride in fostering a healthy environment can be attributed to its strong sense of community and social support networks.  

The town offered many community activities, events, and clubs catering to various interests and age groups. This inclusivity fosters a sense of belonging and connectedness among residents, crucial in promoting mental well-being and combating social isolation. 

Furthermore, East Kilbride Development Corporation invested in developing community centres, libraries, and sports facilities, which served as hubs for social interaction, recreational activities, and learning opportunities. These shared spaces contribute to residents’ physical health and provide a platform for education, cultural exchange, and personal growth. 

A healthy future  

East Kilbride’s anniversary is a testament to the power of purposeful urban planning in creating communities that prioritise health and well-being. Its green spaces, accessible healthcare facilities, and robust community engagement serve as an inspiration for the future. 

It is vital with ever changing lifestyles and the need for redevelopment of our new towns that the founding principles of the Development Corporation are taken forward by the local authority and partners in devolved Governments.  

East Kilbride requires improved rail infrastructure and connectivity alongside a revisiting of health service development and town centre renewal to meet the needs of the ever growing population.  The announcements of a new ‘seven-point plan’ for renewing the economy of the town and building prosperity and well-being for future generations, provides the opportunity to make that a reality.The vital foundations laid by the Development Corporation for the New Town of East Kilbride was an insightful first step to a community focused upon wellbeing. This must be carried forward by those overseeing its development in today’s ever developing world. 

Dr Lisa Cameron MP is Member of Parliament for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow and  Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on New Towns.  

You can find out more about East Kilbride here.

Photo: Aurora affordable Eco House in East Kilbride.

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