OPINION

Could ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ be the answer?

Posted On 11 Jul 2021 at 11:48 am

Could “20-minute neighbourhoods” be the answer? Of course, there’s no simple answer to that. You’d have to understand the problem first. And have a strong understanding of how our lives are affected by the infrastructure and investment that exists within a 20-minute return walk of home with good access to active travel and public transport routes.

Labour have asked that question by winning support for Councillor Amanda Evans’s motion to trial 20-minute neighbourhood pilot schemes – and securing funding for them at Brighton and Hove City Council’s annual “budget council” meeting.

Certainly, for many of us this would mean a significant change from how our lives have existed for much of the past hundred years.

When I look at my own life, although some days I don’t need to leave the house to work any more, on other days I end up driving for up to an hour to attend meetings – and rarely are the facilities within my local neighbourhood the key ones I need.

For our communities to really benefit though, this isn’t just a “carbon net zero” problem that the 20-minute neighbourhood addresses.

It can also give communities back the services and facilities they have lost, the local jobs and bring investment closer to those communities that have become little more than dormitory estates over recent years.

Imagine a stronger set of local shopping choices with less need to travel further for basic needs.

And access to better transport infrastructure, with facilities like offices, libraries and leisure centres all more easily accessible.

We already have great local community schools across the city but if adult learning opportunities and jobs existed in greater scale outside the city centre then we could see all communities thriving rather than surviving as well as helping to ensure our city’s delivery of carbon net zero.

So our city economy, our sustainability and our community could all be helped by trialling 20-minute neighbourhoods.

But we aren’t claiming they will be a panacea for all these issues – just a useful tool to help some people change their lives and impact less on the problems we all need to address collectively.

It’s by no means the only answer, it doesn’t solve everything and certainly doesn’t suit every resident’s life. But lets give 20 minute neighbourhoods a chance – we can’t go on like this.

Councillor Daniel Yates is Labour’s lead on the Asset Management Board and Procurement Advisory Board on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Peter Challis Reply

    With a city the size of Brighton & Hove, how many reasons for journeys really be completed in 10 minutes each way?

    Perhaps Daniel could explain how “20-minute neighbourhoods” are a tool, or is this an eco-activist bright idea looking for a problem?

    Where I live there are only a few shops within 10 minutes walking. My GP surgery is 30 minutes away and Portslade town centre about 25 minutes.

    So thank you for the suggestion – I’ll go back to avoiding public transport for fear of contracting Covid-19 (or whatever comes next), and use my low-emission car to drive everywhere – mostly away from the city centres to avoid the congestion and traffic delays.

  2. Greens Out Reply

    Usual twaddle from another waste of oxygen

  3. Nathan Adler Reply

    20 minute neighbourhoods? Sounds great on paper but how practical is it? The idea of keeping jobs and money local is certainly in the right direction as long as we do not discourage £1 billion of tourism to the city, (it is what the city was built on). If you are in the East of Brighton the lack of Secondary School Provision means a 20 minute neighbourhood is unlikely for any families out there. Similarly in the extreme West a lack of local facilities in North Portslade would seem a barrier. Potentially popular for the center of Brighton/ Hove not sure this is workable once you end up in the suburbs and would take a huge amount of investment which I doubt the council has.

    • Daniel Yates Reply

      Agreed Nathan… it’s not the answer to everything. But it’s one way to approach our future planning approaches. I live well outside the city centre and closer access to better facilities would only be a partial solution. That’s why addressing the barriers for those of us on estates where facilities have been denuded and opportunities limited has to come into scope…

  4. Mike Gibson Reply

    Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum has produced a Neighbourhood Plan which envisages a new Hove Station Quarter emerging from the regeneration of our area – a process that was set in train when the 2016 City Plan designated Hove Station Development Area 6. Our 6 years work is documented in the Neighbourhod Plan Consultation Statement – available on the Council website. We are now building on this work to promote a 20 Minute Hove Station Quarter, based on the three Community Hubs designated in the Neighbourhood Plan. The Forum’s new Management Committee, elected at the AGM last week, will soon start discussions with the Council about how the Forum’s 300 members can work in partnership with officers and councillors to move this idea forward, drawing on the experience of other cities.

    Mike Gibson, Chair Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum

  5. GGL Reply

    Schools are a big issue the council would have to get to grips with here – current approach is social engineering through bussing kids all around the city. Responding to local need/numbers and recognising schools as a fundamental part of communities is needed or this 20 minute soundbite remains just that, and both Labour and Greens seem to prioritise other issues far above locality/distance to school.

  6. Nigel Atherton Reply

    A couple of centuries ago people grew up, worked, married, raised families and died in the place they were born. Their horizons stretched only as far as they could see from a tall tree. The 20th century revolution in land, sea and air travel and gave us the ability to see the world and to work, live and love wherever we want to. Now some see climate change as an opportunity to roll back the clock 200 years by making it so that people not only have no need to travel more than 20 mins from their home but are discouraged from doing so because it’s bad for the environment. Talk about shrinking people’s horizons and life opportunities back to almost nothing!

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