Chris Whitty: serious health challenges in coastal communities must be tackled

Serious health challenges existing in coastal towns must be tackled by the Government or they will “get worse”, Professor Chris Whitty has said.

Professor Chris Whitty’s report can be found here.

West Somerset and Torbay feature as two of the ten study cases (Exmouth seems to have escaped):


A patch of the Devon coastline on England’s south-coast that includes the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, Torbay has higher rates of cardio-vascular disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes than the national average.

Its ageing housing stock – it has high numbers of former guest houses converted into relatively cheap houses of multiple occupation, and caravan parks – is identified as a key environmental factor in poor health outcomes in the area.

And, of course, he mentions the “Oldies” in Budleigh, Seaton and Sidmouth: 

“The older age profile of the coastal towns’ resident population is particularly visible in smaller seaside towns, where 31% of the resident population was aged 65 years or over, in 2019, in comparison with 22% in smaller non-coastal towns. The proportion of population aged 65 years or over was highest in Budleigh Salterton in Devon at 45%, in Hunstanton in Norfolk at 44% and in Seaton and Sidmouth also in Devon at 43%.”

Chris Whitty: serious health challenges in coastal communities must be tackled

Daisy Stephens

England’s chief medical officer (CMO) has recommended a cross-government national strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of coastal communities as part of his 2021 Annual Report, which found that those living in coastal communities face lower life expectancies and higher rates of many major diseases compared to people in inland areas.

“Coastal areas are some of the most beautiful, vibrant and historic places in the country,” said Prof Whitty.

“They also have some of the worst health outcomes with low life expectancy and high rates of many major diseases.

“These communities have often been overlooked by governments and the ill-health hidden because their outcomes are merged with wealthier inland areas.

“A national strategy informed by local leaders and experts will help reduce inequalities and preventable ill health.

“If we do not tackle the health problems of coastal communities vigorously and systematically there will be a long tail of preventable ill health which will get worse as current populations age.”

According to Prof Whitty’s report, Health in Coastal Communities, Blackpool is the most deprived local authority in England, and also experiences the lowest life expectancy for both males (74.4 years) and females (79.5 years).

In West Somerset, 23 per cent of residents over 16 live with a long-term condition compared to 17 per cent inland, and in the entire county, hospital admissions for self-harm are significantly higher than the rest of England.

Coastal areas in the North East, such as Hartlepool and Hull, have seen high rates of coronavirus compared to the rest of the country and both have seen a negative impact on the local economies, the report sets out.

The report also found that seaside communities have fewer postgraduate medical trainees, consultants and nurses per patient than the national average.

The report also noted a number of factors that could partly explain the trend, such as the fact that coastal towns have an oversupply of cheap guest housing and houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) which encourages the migration of vulnerable people, often with certain health needs, and that older, retired citizens with increasing health problems often settle in coastal regions.

The report comes after the Government’s levelling up agenda was introduced, which aims to invest billions of pounds in projects across the United Kingdom and in seaside towns such as Hastings and Hartlepool.

Prof Whitty set out that a cross-government national strategy should be created to improve the health and wellbeing of coastal communities.

He also called for the “mismatch” between care worker deployment and disease to be addressed and said there needed to be an improvement in data and research into health needs.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid, said: “I welcome this report from Professor Chris Whitty, which raises important points on inequalities that we must tackle to improve the health of coastal communities – and I will carefully consider these recommendations.

“Those living in coastal areas clearly face different sets of challenges to those inland but everybody, no matter where they live, should have similar opportunities in education, housing, employment and health.

“We are committed to levelling up across the nation.”

Robert Jenrick wants beautiful new housing on leafy streets

Dream on! Owl imagines that, having gained outline permission under the proposed zoning system, developers will argue that they can’t afford tree-lined streets and access to green spaces. 

Remember that Cranbrook was a pioneering example of “developer led” development.

George Grylls, Political Reporter

All new homes should be built in traditional architectural styles on tree-lined streets with access to green space, the government will announce today.

Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, is set to outline a new national model design code, stipulating the types of façade and materials local authorities should demand of new buildings.

Councils will be asked to have local design codes that fit the history of their area. Traditional stonework will be encouraged in southern cities such as Bristol and Oxford, while developments in northern towns will be asked to reflect their red-brick heritage.

The Prince of Wales, who has advocated traditional architecture with his neo-Georgian developments at Poundbury, Dorset, and Nansledan, Cornwall, is a key inspiration for the reforms.

In a speech to the think tank Policy Exchange today Jenrick will also unveil the new national planning policy framework which will recommend that developments provide access to nature and include schemes to improve biodiversity. All new streets will be planted with trees as part of an effort to plant 7,000 hectares of woodland a year.

Writing in The Times Red Box today, Jenrick says people have become disillusioned with developers after decades of poor design and that new homes must be beautiful to win public approval.

“Urban planning since the war has at times been a disaster,” he writes. “It is little wonder people are sceptical of new housing. It is a logical response to unimaginative development and poor planning.

“Good design, ready access to nature, high environmental standards, should be for all, from Haringey to Hartlepool. This is about putting communities, not developers, in the driving seat to demand beauty, and insist on a return to a sense of stewardship — to building greener, popular homes and places that stand the test of time.”

Nansledan, near Newquay, is cited as a successful example of design. The 540-acre site will accommodate more than 4,000 pastel-coloured homes. The houses have traditional pitched roofs and are built using local materials.

To help deliver the plans, Jenrick has created a taskforce to drive up standards in the building industry, with developers, architects and planners all represented.

The Office for Place will be chaired by Nicholas Boys Smith, director of Create Streets, which lobbies for more terraced housing. Boys Smith collaborated with the late Conservative philosopher Roger Scruton on the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission, which recommended that aesthetic considerations should be factored into planning decisions.

The announcements form the first part of the government’s planning reforms. A planning bill will come before the Commons this autumn amid unrest from Conservative backbenchers, many of whom blame the party’s humiliation at the Chesham & Amersham by-election last month on the unpopularity of the proposals.

Under the reforms, a zonal system will prevent homeowners from objecting to developments in their area.

Ministers believe that overhauling the planning system is crucial if the government is to hit its target of building 300,000 houses a year by the middle of the decade and enable younger generations to buy their own home.

In the past year, house prices have surged thanks to the temporary lifting of stamp duty taxes. The pressures of the pandemic have also led more people to seek out roomier properties with gardens. The average house price has risen to a record £338,000, according to Rightmove.

Deviations from outline planning permission – Burrington Estates “conditions”

Does outline planning permission give developers “Carte Blanche” to do whatever they like? If you think the situation is bad now, what’s it going to be like under the Government’s zoning proposals.

The latest on this particular legacy problem – Owl 

From a correspondent

You may remember that Burrington Estates achieved outline planning permission in December last year for development at Winslade Manor.  East Devon District Council overruled their own dedicated strategic policy (26B), the Local Plan, the Neighbourhood Plan and ignored the fact that part of the site was on a flood plain. The main reason that all the plans and policies were overruled and ignored was the economic benefits of employment that this scheme was promised by Burrington Estates to deliver.

Since December 2020 Burrington Estates have been in negotiations regarding the conditions on this site. Despite requesting updates nothing has been forthcoming as the negotiations have been confidential.

The Parish Council commented at last week’s Parish Council meeting that the detailed plans they had been shown contained a considerable number of differences from the outline permission. There has been no mention of the swimming pool or the community park facilities previously promised by Burringtons.  

Residents have been invited to attend a consultation event (details to be confirmed shortly.) In order to get some idea of numbers, to attend this event you need to register before 5pm Friday 23rd July. If you want to view the proposals you need to email or  telephone 01392 581150, specifying your contact details. 

East Devon sees first Covid care home death for three months

Devon Live reports the latest ONS data confirms the first death of a care home resident from coronavirus in Devon for three months was in East Devon. Data relates to the week of July 3 to 9, but registered up to July 17.

From Freedom Day Owl understands that friends and relatives visiting care home residents will still need to wear protective equipment and be advised to minimise physical contact.

But there will not be a limit on the number of “named visitors” a resident can receive and no national limit on how many can visit in a single day.