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Cambridge Public Health


Population ageing and urbanisation are converging global trends. By 2050, the number of people aged 60 years or over is projected to reach almost 2.1 billion worldwide, with two-thirds predicted to live in urban areas (compared to under a third in 1950).

In 2006, the World Health Organisation responded to these phenomena with its Age-Friendly Cities initiative which “encourages active ageing by optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age”.

A rapid increase in initiatives designed to create Age-Friendly Environments has ensued, along with a need for robust evaluation frameworks.

Research projects

Evidencing the Social Return on Investment of Age-Friendly Communities

People are living longer. Yet for many, the opportunities of a longer life are lost due to poor health and difficulty remaining involved in society. Many places across the UK aim to be ‘age-friendly’ through improved housing, transport and access to social activities to help older people to stay well and enjoy fulfilling lives. Understanding how such initiatives work, and whether investing in them is worthwhile, is essential for their success and sustainability.

Between 2020-2022, this project assessed Age-friendly City and Community (AFCC) projects using a Social Return on Investment (SROI) framework across four selected sites in England: LiverpoolSuffolkKelsall and Buckden. We measured the social, economic and environmental values they generate – the social value – and compared it with their monetary costs.

Neighbourhood Planning and its potential to contribute to age-friendly rural communities

This project focussed on rural communities and the challenges and opportunities they present for ageing populations. Building on the Age-Friendly Cities project, this feasibility study explored the potential of Neighbourhood Planning (NP) to deliver age-friendly action plans in rural contexts and improve health-related experiences and outcomes for older adults.

Neighbourhood Planning is a government initiative introduced in England through the Localism Act 2011. It involves communities taking an active role in shaping the future development of their area, with less input from local authorities and other government bodies than had previously been the case. The resulting neighbourhood plan has legal weight within the planning system.