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Dementia friendly neighbourhoods could be pioneered in Milton Keynes

The Leader of Milton Keynes Council will next week announce a public consultation on a policy document that outlines how new neighbourhoods should be dementia friendly.

The Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) shares planning guidance for potential developers, informing them how new estates and buildings can maintain the wellbeing and independence of people living with dementia.

Councillor Pete Marland, Labour Leader of the Council, will take the decision:

“Neighbourhoods are made dementia friendly through the use of open spaces, signage, wayfinding, and building design. Developers might not be aware of this, so we have created a document that clearly outlines all that can be done to support our more vulnerable residents.

“We are facing an ageing population, and dementia is becoming increasingly common, so we must prepare for the future and ensure that Milton Keynes is a safe place for all.”

There are dozens of ways that a neighbourhood can be made dementia friendly, including:

  • Housing designed for older people, such as sheltered housing or care homes, should be located within a 5 to 10-minute walk of local shops and services, including public transport

  • Streets should be short and not too wide

  • Introducing sensory gardens that can provide many benefits to people with dementia

  • Avoiding 'dead ends', as wide paths should form continuous routes

  • Maintaining clear sight lines

  • Entrances to buildings should be clearly visible and obvious, and the functions of buildings should be obvious

  • On more heavily trafficked streets, noise should be absorbed or masked by trees or water features

  • Signs should be minimal, giving simple, essential information at decision points

Councillor Emily Darlington, Labour Cabinet Member for Adults, Housing and Healthy Communities, has been working on the Council’s Dementia Friendly City Strategy:

“There are over 1,600 people living with dementia in Milton Keynes and this is set to more than double by 2030. Built and natural environments have an important role to play in the wellbeing of those with dementia, so it’s important that we do all we can to ensure individuals can live well for longer. We have committed to become a Dementia Friendly City, and adopting this document will be another step we take towards getting there.”

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