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20-minute neighbourhoods

A 20-minute neighbourhood is one where you can meet many of your needs - for example, for shopping, community activity and health appointments - within a 20-minute round trip from your home, on foot or by bike.

It is a principle to guide thinking - it is not a law. It is being proposed by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), Sport England, green travel charity Sustrans and other groups.

According to Fiona Howe, chief executive of the TCPA, the idea of 20-minute neighbourhoods is aimed "to plan, design, regenerate and create communities that meet people's everyday needs, help to tackle health inequalities, and enable everyone to thrive."

Issues we are trying to solve

People are making fewer journeys on foot and many neighbourhoods are dominated by vehicles and are congested and unattractive to walk or cycle around.

According to the Town and Country Planning Association: "Before the early 20th century, the most common form of transport was walking. Historic urban centres that came about before motor vehicles were common were designed to be compact, connected and contain most of the things that their communities needed.

"In contrast, most towns and neighbourhoods that were developed from the mid-20th century onwards were designed to prioritise motor vehicles. They can be difficult, unpleasant or dangerous to walk or cycle through."

Potential benefits

The idea is that people will be healthier and happier if they have key amenities in easy reach and they do not have to drive everywhere. This will encourage people to be more active, through walking and cycling and also helps to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

The idea is supported by the Disabled Citizens' Inquiry, as it helps disabled people to live an independent, connected and fulfilling life, in walking or wheeling distance of their homes. In Norfolk, there is the potential to support sustainable tourism, by having facilities within easier reach for people using public transport and bikes.

Why we are interested

We are looking into the idea to see if it could be applied in Norfolk. It will work with district councils, Transport East and other organisations, to review the evidence and potential benefits of trialling a number of 20-minute neighbourhoods in rural and urban areas. No decisions have been taken at this stage on when and where this could happen. If proposals are identified for a specific area where this approach could be considered, we will consult with those in that area to seek their views.

Are we imposing this?

No. It is a principle that can be considered for existing and future developments, with the focus on creating neighbourhoods that are accessible to everyone and where people are not locked into car dependency. This principle may be difficult to put in place in rural villages, so public transport options between these villages would be essential, to access places outside of the neighbourhood and to support those who could find it challenging to make a trip on foot or by cycle. Reduced traffic levels will create safer environments for all users of the transport network, whether you are a resident of the local area or are just visiting.

Effect on car users

This is about offering greater freedom of choice and making it more convenient to walk or cycle more frequently. It will still be possible to make driving trips, but these may not be as direct as walking, cycling or using public transport.

Further information

Further details and case studies on 20-minute neighbourhoods are available on the The Town and Country Planning Association website.

Find out more about 20-minute neighbourhoods via the Sustrans website.

Find out more about the Disabled Citizens' Inquiry via the Sustrans website.

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