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Bridgend Politics South Wales

Discussions held on concept known as ’20-minute neighbourhood’ in Bridgend

Bridgend Town Centre (pic: Lewis Smith)

FURTHER discussions have been held by Bridgend County Borough Council this month on the concept known as the 20-minute neighbourhood, at a Town and Community Council forum.

At the meeting, members heard more about the council endorsed idea, which is an international planning concept designed to ensure people have all their local amenities such as retail, leisure, education, primary healthcare and employment, within a 20-minute walk or bike ride of their home.

It also includes people having access to greenspaces close to their homes, as well as promoting a local environment that encourages active travel, health and wellbeing, and the need for affordable housing.

In a report given to members it was shown that the concept has previously been implemented in a number of areas all over the world in places such as Melbourne, Portland and Paris, which are regularly reference as a 15- minute cities, with residents having all their amenities within a 20 minute walking distance.

The report read: “The 20-minute neighbourhood is all about ‘living locally’—giving people the ability to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute walk or cycle ride from home, with safe cycling and local transport options.

“In the context of Bridgend, a 20-minute neighbourhood is one that enables access services within a 20-minute period either by walking or cycling, with public transport provision also available as a fallback option to ensure there is a range of sustainable travel options available within each neighbourhood.”

However, while the concept, first thought up by Urbanist Carlos Moreno is said to have a number of benefits, it has not been as well received everywhere, with residents in Oxford protesting after their City Council announced plans to become a fully functioning 15-minute city by 2040 .

Among the reasons for this were fears that it could lead to restrictions on how much they could travel, along with limits to other freedoms, though officers stressed that the premise, now aligned with the council’s LDP, was designed to enhance the area and not to stop people from moving around.

While the report was noted by councillors after a lengthy debate, there were a number of questions raised  by those in attendance based on how realistic the implementation of such a plan could be, and what it could mean for the area in the future.

Councillor Philip Jenkins of Maesteg said while he agreed with the sentiments of the plan in principal he also had some concerns, and feared they could be unachievable or “pie in the sky” unless a number of issues with local infrastructure were first addressed.

Cllr Jonathan Pratt asked if anything could be done to counter false information circulating on the issue, while others raised questions over the amount of affordable housing in the area, as well as issues with a lack of public transport and local employment opportunities that could make the idea non-viable.

In response officers assured members that when it came to Bridgend, there were were no intentions to introduce the concept across its entirety, stating that it was mainly about alignment with the new developments coming forward in the county borough, that would aim to reduce the need for people to travel where possible, and was not about locking people in.