We are all familiar with how changing patterns of living and working due to Covid have affected high streets and how much strain the pandemic has put on the NHS. At ADP Architecture, we have been investigating a holistic response – one that combines better healthcare provision with a new blueprint for our high streets.
There is a potential need for approximately 1.25m sq m of space for health services; 1m sq m to move suitable outpatient-based services from acute hospital settings into the community to free up main hospital sites for higher acuity care; and 250,000 sq m to accommodate additional future clinical roles as part of the Primary Care Network manifesto to improve population health. At the same time, high street shopping centres currently have more than 1.6m sq m of available space – more than enough to meet this projected demand.
In partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, ADP has been working alongside iDEA and Carter Jonas researching the possibilities this presents, and has already been working with clients on testbed cases. In Runcorn, ADP is helping Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to relocate its ophthalmology and audiology outpatient services into a vacant retail unit. And in Gloucester, we are designing a major new city centre campus for the University of Gloucestershire, combining clinical education with patient-facing NHS services – all within a refurbished Debenhams department store.
Research and case studies like this show how with a little creativity, appropriate healthcare facilities can be brought back into the heart of the communities they serve. This has benefits for everyone: NHS Trusts have new, well-located spaces to provide care; patients can access healthcare in more convenient ways; landlords have reliable long-term tenants for vacant units; and adjacent tenants have increased footfall, particularly relevant when they provide aligned services, such as opticians and chemists. With more cross-partnership working between these groups, this approach might just be the future of healthcare.
Hannah Brewster is regional healthcare director at ADP Architecture