Smart Transport

What is a 15-minute neighbourhood?

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The legacy of lockdown could promote a place-making revolution in urban planning. Mark Sutcliffe investigates the 15-minute city model

The 15-minute neighbourhood involves a menu of policy actions that provide residents access to most, if not all, of their needs within a short walk or bike ride from their home. 

Based upon four pillars, proximity, diversity, density and ubiquity, 15-minute policies transform urban spaces into connected and self-sufficient (or ‘complete’) neighbourhoods.

Reducing car use and encouraging active travel are central to delivering the 15-minute vision.

The 15-minute neighbourhood serves as an organising principle for urban development and urban life that makes life more liveable for residents, by improving air quality and making neighbourhoods safer, quieter, more diverse, inclusive and economically vibrant.

It requires a move towards a more decentralised and devolved planning framework that understands in granular detail the unique characteristics of each neighbourhood and encourages development that will demonstrably improve the quality of life of the residents in those neighbourhoods. 

In the UK, there are relatively few examples of planning policies and interventions that nurture 15-minute neighbourhoods, but the low traffic neighbourhoods being pioneered in Waltham Forest and Sheffield – and those planned for Bristol, Bath, Manchester and other cities – are tentative first steps.

Read Mark Sutcliffe's full article in the latest issue of Smart Transport Journal



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