The concept is part of the sustainable urban design thinking and implies having all necessary amenities within a short walk, bike-ride or public transit trip. The strategy decentralizes the local economy, with each neighbourhood featuring all the aspects of urban living, from workspaces, businesses, to recreation, green areas, and housing.
The Arch Daily today looks at how the pandemic has impacted urban design – and one idea that has taken off is the “15 Minute Neighbourhood”:
The concept is part of the sustainable urban design thinking and implies having all necessary amenities within a short walk, bike-ride or public transit trip. The strategy decentralizes the local economy, with each neighbourhood featuring all the aspects of urban living, from workspaces, businesses, to recreation, green areas, and housing. The concept, dating back to 1900s, made a comeback in 2019, as the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, became a prominent supporter of the 15-minute city or la ville du quart d’heure. Now several cities around the world included the idea in their post-pandemic recovery strategies.
This is something already looked at in these pages:
And this has already been looked at for Sidmouth – one specific idea being ‘car-free Sundays’, to get folk to walk down to town and to enjoy the streets a little:
However, for many living in Sidmouth, the shops and services and places to go are more than a 15-minute walk – and in that respect, Sidmouth is typical of most towns and cities, certainly in the Anglosphere:
The concept of the 15-minute city is in direct contrast to the urban planning paradigms that have dominated for the last century, whereby residential areas are separated from business, retail, industry and entertainment.
In contrast, for example, most Spanish towns and cities will have neighbourhoods already well-serviced with pretty much everything needed for everyday life – all well within a 15-minute walk:
In the US, for example, shoppers visit massive stores where armies of staff work in shifts; in Spain, you go to the small, independent papelería for pens and notebooks, the ferretería a block away for a hammer or screwdriver, and el mercado for your groceries. Most of these small shops are family operations, which means 14:00 is time for a family lunch and weekends are, well, weekends. In other words, they’re not employees of a vast multinational company – they are independent traders with families.
A typical shopping excursion in Spain begins with a coffee at a local bar before heading to the panadería for bread. Next, you’ll walk to the local market, where there are multiple carnicerías for meat, charcuterías for hams and cheeses, fruterías for fruits and vegetables, and pescaderías for seafood. When you hear your number, you receive a warm hello that leads to a conversation. Then, when your carrito is full with enough food for the next few days, you might head to the market bar for a beer and a sandwich before returning home
This has been well documented by academics:
A comparison of the small shop environment in Spain and the UK reveals some important differences in the emplacement of small shops in the local economy and its organisational structure.
.In other words, we haven’t planned to encourage the mix of retail and housing, of cafés on the corner and real ease of access to local services.But perhaps indeed, the times are changing.
As we look to the changing high street, will we be seeing more residential downtown?
With lockdowns and restrictions, will there be more pop-up takeaway restaurants in the suburbs?
And as more of us are working from home, do we want to be able to have the milkman delivering another pint or two?
At least most of us in Sidmouth can go for local walk:
image: Place Analysis, from the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan, produced by Creative Excellence: