THE most healthy and unhealthy places in Darlington and Teesside have been revealed following analysis by experts at the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC).

Specialists at CDRC investigated wellbeing by monitoring pollution levels, the number of parks and recreational spaces in each Tees Valley neighbourhood.

The availability of health services, such as GP surgeries and pharmacies, and the number of takeaways, pubs and gambling shops were also factored in.

Rural areas are likely to score low on the health index due to the distance from healthcare.

Green spaces, such as woods, meadows and parks, or blue space such as rivers, lakes and sea are also referred to as 'blue/green spaces'.

The interactive map tracks CDRC's health index, also known as Access to Healthy Assets and Hazards (AHAH), findings.

The following items are used to calculate an overall AHAH score for areas:

  • Retail environment (access to fast food outlets, pubs, off-licences, tobacconists, gambling outlets)
  • Health services (access to GPs, hospitals, pharmacies, dentists, leisure services)
  • Physical environment (Blue Space, Green Space - Active, Green Space - Passive)
  • Air quality (Nitrogen Dioxide, Particulate Matter 10, Sulphur Dioxide)

The lower the score the healthier the area is, which then appears in blue on the map. The higher scores, representing less healthy areas, are red.

Areas are also ranked one to ten on an AHAH scale, with one being the healthiest areas.

Here are some areas in Darlington and Teesside:


The Northern Echo: Darlington. Picture: CDRCDarlington. Picture: CDRC

Darlington, with its population of around 106,000, is a mixed bag but has a clear trend.

You can see that areas closer to the town centre are less healthy than those on the outskirts of the borough. This could come down to traffic and pollution levels, with the town centre likely seeing more congestion. 

Let's take a closer look at neighbourhoods within the town. 

Darlington town centre, Skerne Park and Blackwell

The Northern Echo: Darlington town centre. Picture: CDRCDarlington town centre. Picture: CDRC

Darlington town centre, where the orange colour is on the map, is not very healthy. It has an AHAH score of 25.5 and ranks number eight for heathy areas, with one being the most healthy. 

The town however is amongst the best performing neighbourhoods for health services, comes in second for blue/green space and third for air quality. 

Skerne Park, which neighbours South Park, and Blackwell are both very healthy. Coming in on top of the overall scale and scores of 10.8 and 11.8 respectively, they also sit within the top half of the scale for green spaces and air quality. 

Firthmoor, Eastbourne and Red Hall

The Northern Echo: Firthmoor, Eastbourne and Red Hall. Picture: CDRCFirthmoor, Eastbourne and Red Hall. Picture: CDRC

The east of Darlington is also a mixed bag, with Eastbourne and Red Hall being amongst the best and second-best overall performing areas for healthiness. Firthmoor is split, with overall scores decreasing the closer you get to town and the A66. 

Firthmoor and parts of Eastbourne came in particularly low for access to off-licences, however, this data is from 2017.

Parts of Eastbourne and Red Hall also had little or no access to GPs, according to the map. 

Middleton St George and Oak Tree

The Northern Echo: Middleton St George and Oak Tree. Picture: CDRCMiddleton St George and Oak Tree. Picture: CDRC

Most of Middleton St George is pretty healthy.

However, the south side and Oak Tree to the East are neither healthy or unhealthy.

They are both rated five on the scale, with an overall score of 19.

Hummersknott, Mowden, Cockerton and Merrybent

The Northern Echo: Hummersknott, Mowden, CockertonHummersknott, Mowden, Cockerton

Merrybentt, on the outskirts of Darlington, is not healthy. It's in the worst performing decile, with an overall score of 33.58. However, the rural area is in the best performing decile for retail environment, green/blue spaces and access to fast food, which are factored into the overall score.

Hummersknott is mixed, with the west side of the village being slightly healthier than the right side and areas around Conniscliffe Road being healthier still. 

Mowden, with its access to blue/green spaces, ranked two for healthiness while Cockerton, just over a B road, comes in at number three making them both generally healthy places to live.

The picture changes, however, when looking at the specific elements. Mowden, for example, ranks low in accessibility to a dentist. 

Areas in the west side of Darlington generally rank second and third for air quality.


The Northern Echo: Teesside. Picture: CDRCTeesside. Picture: CDRC

Much more vibrant than Darlington is Teesside. The overall snapshot reveals healthy pockets within Thornaby-on-Tees and Middlesbrough while Billingham is unhealthy. 

Let's take a closer look.


The Northern Echo: Stockton. Picture: CDRCStockton. Picture: CDRC

Stockton itself is not healthy or unhealthy.

Areas near Oxbridge and Bishopton avenues are healthier than the outskirts of the city, which marries up with green spaces along the roads.  

Parts of Hardwick, where the University Hospital is, are very healthy, likely due to the accessibility of healthcare.

Norton is not very healthy, coming in 7th on the AHAH scale, with a small neighbouring area that is even more unhealthy.

Portrack and St Anne's Hill are neither healthy nor unhealthy.

The picture is healthier in Thornaby, which sports a light blue colour on the map with the exception of areas near the A66.

When it comes to air quality, nowhere in Stockton is particularly healthy though Portrack and St Anne's Hill are slightly more worse than the rest of the city. 


The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough. Picture: CDRCMiddlesbrough. Picture: CDRC

With the large town's heartland being dominated by orange, Middlesbrough has mostly unhealthy and middle-ground neighbourhoods.

South Bank, Grangetown and Eston, which are on the eastern outskirts of the town, are healthier than their western counterparts. 

The opposite is true when looking at health services in isolation, while areas around Teesside University are healthiest in terms of blue/green spaces. 


The Northern Echo: Billingham. Picture: CDRCBillingham. Picture: CDRC

Billingham is ranked as unhealthy, with just one small pocket of the town being ranked higher than five on the AHAH scale. 

The healthier area has an overall score of 18.5.

The most unhealthy area of Billingham is between Marsh House Avenue and the A1185, which ranks 9th on the scale and has a score of 28.5.


The Northern Echo: Hartlepool. Picture: CDRCHartlepool. Picture: CDRC

Just three pockets of Hartlepool are ranked in the best performing decile of the AHAH scale, making them the healthiest. 

These are the darker blue colours on the map, all coastal neighbourhoods. 

The first is The Headland area, where the Hugh Battery Museum is, the second to the right of Winterbottom Avenue just off the A1049 and third further down towards the River Tees in the Seaton Carew area.

The unhealthiest area of Hartlepool is to the right of Gratham Beck, which is ranks nine on the AHAH scale with an overall score of 31.4.

The neighbourhood ranks lowly on access to blue/green spaces, GPs, dentists and health services.


The Northern Echo: Redcar. Picture: CDCRRedcar. Picture: CDCR

No neighbourhoods in Redcar rank as low as nine or ten in the scale, with just three areas ranking in the 8th decile and the rest being more healthy. 

They can be seen in the darker orange colours on the map, with the bottom right neighbourhood having an overall healthiness score of 27.7, the area across the road Mackinlay Park being a little healthier, with a score of 23, and the area surrounding the Zetland Lifeboat Museum having a score of 26.7.

Redcar east is the healthiest area of the town, between Zetland Park and the rugby club.