Terms of Reference

The Commission

The University of Oxford’s Commission on Creating Healthy Cities is a joint venture between Kellogg College’s Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation and The Prince’s Foundation.

The Commission has been established to provide evidence-based recommendations to UK city leaders and citizens on improving the health and wellbeing of their communities.

The Commissioners

Members of the Commission and its three subgroups are as follows:

Lord Best (Chair of the Commission on Creating Healthy Cities)

Subgroup A – The Built Environment, Design and Place-making (housing, planning and urban design, regeneration)

  • Pam Alexander (Future Cities Catapult; London Legacy Development Corporation) (C)
  • Mel Barrett (Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council) (C)
  • Professor Rachel Cooper (Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University) (C) (Chair)
  • Lara Kinneir (Leader / Design Cities, The London School of Architecture)
  • Alice Lester (Operational Director, Brent Council (previously Head of Planning)) (C)
  • Gail Mayhew (Principal, Smart Growth Associates) 
  • Sowmya Parthasarathy (Director, Urban Design & Master Planning, Arup)

Subgroup B – Transport and Movement, Infrastructure and Technology (Smart Cities)

  • Professor Yolande Barnes (UCL Bartlett Real Estate Institute) (C)
  • Professor David Banister (Professor of Transport Studies, University of Oxford’s School of Geography; Environment and the Transport Studies Unit) (C) (Chair)
  • Sir David Brown (Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Chair of the Bletchley Park Trust.) (C)
  • Lord Karan Bilimoria (Chair, Cobra Beer; CBI President) (C)
  • Polly MacKenzie (Chief Executive, Demos/Public Participation Lab)
  • Emma Pinchbeck (Chief Executive Energy UK)
  • Nicola Yates (Chief Executive, Future Cities Catapult)

Subgroup C – Health & Wellbeing (public health, social prescribing, food and exercise, health creation)

  • Dr Catherine Calderwood (Centre for Sustainable Delivery; former Chief Medical Officer, Scotland)
  • Dr Joan Clos (past Head of UNHabitat and former Mayor of Barcelona) (C)
  • Professor Dame Jane Dacre (UCL Medical School, former President of the Royal College of Physicians)
  • Dr Michael Dixon (Chair, College of Medicine) (C) (Chair)
  • Dr Kamal Mahtani (GP and Associate Professor at the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine) (C)
  • Marvin Rees (Mayor of Bristol) (C)
  • Sally Warren (Director of Policy, The King’s Fund)

(C) = Commissioner

Definition of Healthy Cities

The Commission has adopted the World Health Organisation definition:

“A healthy city is one that is continually creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources which enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential.”


The Commission’s deliberations have led to the refining of its broad agenda under 4 headings:

  1. Governance/decision making processes
  2. The Built Environment, Design and Placemaking (Housing, Planning and Urban Design and Regeneration)
  3. Transport and movement, infrastructure and technology (smart cities)
  4. Health & Wellbeing (public health, social prescribing, food and exercise, health creation)
Call for Evidence

The Commission invited interested parties to bring forward evidence of what works in creating healthier cities, where possible demonstrating the cost-benefits of interventions

Although the Commission is much interested in input from academic research, we also welcomed contributions based on the experiences of practitioners and citizens/users of services.  

The Global Centre has engaged two Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Georgia Richards and Dr Juliet Carpenter, to assemble and evaluate available evidence. 

The call for evidence ran for a period of 15 weeks and was open to everyone. The consultation closed at 11:45pm UTC on 20 September 2021. The Call for Evidence page details the submissions we received.

Next Steps

To provide a practical tool that may assist city leaders and citizens, the Commission is creating a Healthy Cities Toolkit that enables comparisons to be made and progress to be charted toward key goals.

The Commission will report in Summer 2022.