Healthy City Design International Conference 2020

There were some inspiring talks at the SALUS Global Knowledge Exchange’s Healthy City Design 2020 International Congress, ranging from the former NHS chairman Lord Nigel Crisp on his book ‘Health is made at home, hospitals are for repairs’, to practical examples of designing healthy towns and cities. David Morley was spoke about building on the Spa Town tradition and the design behind DMA’s Matlock Spa development in Derbyshire. 


Matlock Spa – a model for future development of healthy towns and cities


Matlock Spa provides a case study for 500 new homes, now under construction, showing a new form of urban planning that addresses three of the themes for designing resilient communities:


- connecting green and healthy home environments to the community;
- creating places that promote healthier lives and prevent avoidable disease; and
- sustainable development to preserve natural systems and embed ecological resilience.


The concept for Matlock Spa builds on the spa town tradition with health and wellbeing as a focus of the plan. This makes it very relevant to current initiatives by bodies such as the Health Commission, Sport England, the NHS and the Government, which all recognise that where we live affects our health and wellbeing, and acknowledge that taking part in regular physical activity is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This model brownfield development includes a tranquil sequence of five spa villages nestled between the Derbyshire Dales and the newly energised town of Matlock – the home of ‘shabby chic’, according to Country Life magazine.


Known as Matlock Spa, the spa villages will bring a new use to Cawdor Quarry, which was abandoned in the 1950s. The scheme recognises that the post-industrial landscape that has developed in the former Cawdor Quarry has spectacular potential as a focal point for a new community of homes in one of the most sustainable locations possible, just five minutes’ walk from Matlock Railway Station and 10 minutes’ walk from the town centre. Each village boasts its own distinctive character offering a wide range of homes to appeal to all ages and income levels in the form of crescents, woodland lodges, courtyard cottages and spa villas. The vision embraces the natural setting and its many varied features, from cliff faces to lakes and the open fields of the flood plain fronting onto the Derwent Valley Heritage Trail. This will be an active landscape offering opportunities for many outdoor pursuits, including walking, cycling, fishing, and space for informal and formal play for all ages. Matlock Spa builds on the spa town tradition with health and wellbeing as a focus of the plan:


- Pathways and roads are designed to encourage walking and cycling connecting to Matlock town centre and to the extensive network of footpaths and cycle ways that are linked to this site.

- Front doors face out to the country park setting and cars are discretely hidden in courtyards and under buildings.

- All homes are designed to make the most of daylight and sunlight and there are no north-facing gardens.



Matlock Spa