The ALLIANCE's Academy programme and partners have published a report exploring the 20-minute neighbourhood concept.

Throughout 2021 the ALLIANCE’s Health and Social Care Academy programme, in partnership with Disability Equality Scotland and Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, ran a series of events on ‘Exploring Scotland’s 20-minute neighbourhoods’. Our new report shares key findings from the series, which explored the benefits and challenges of a 20-minute neighbourhood through the lens of inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility.

The aim of a 20-minute neighbourhood is that people can access all the things they need in their daily lives, including community spaces, shops, and essential public services, within 20 minutes walk, wheel or cycle from their home.

Our sessions highlighted that the concept itself wasn’t new but had been spoken about for years using different framing. Inclusion within the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government (this link will take you away from our website) was consider to have given more political emphasis to the ambition.

Getting around was a key issue – not only do communities need to be well-connected to each other via accessible public transport, active travel routes, and disabled parking, it also needs to be easy to travel to within each neighbourhood, with good pavement infrastructure, appropriate lighting, and plenty of places to rest.

The loss of local high streets, and amenities like shops, GP surgeries, banks and public toilets was described as having a detrimental impact. Diversity of housing really matters as well, and needs to account for different family sizes and structures, accessibility including for wheelchairs, and adaptability, so people can live in the same home as they age. Investment and planning is needed to ensure that local town centres are great places to live, work and socialise in.

Participants also spoke about the importance of greenspace. Even when greenspace is nearby it isn’t often high quality, may not be accessible and does not always feel safe. As with housing, it is important that there are different types of spaces available to cater to different people, including both wider open and smaller more intimate spaces.

The report makes several key recommendations for Scottish Government, local authorities, listed authorities, and planning authorities. It concludes that 20-minute neighbourhoods have the potential to be transformational for everyone in society. To achieve this, people must be at the heart of planning, design, and delivery.

Each neighbourhood is unique, and its design and implementation will have to be tailored to the specific needs of individual populations. Joined up working across the public, private and third sector is essential and the voice of lived experience will need to be an equal partner in this process.

You can read the full report here, or via the linked resource below.

Watch the short animation summarising our findings.

Reflections on the 20-minute neighbourhood concept by Irene Beautyman, Place and Wellbeing Partnerships Lead at Public Health Scotland.

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