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The 20-minute neighbourhood

News Capturing the 20-minute neighbourhood

5 January 2021 Kate

Due to the pandemic and the lockdowns it has induced, a spotlight has been placed on the importance of our local neighbourhoods and of their livability.  People have been forced to spend more time locally, working from home, using communal outdoor spaces, and connecting with their communities.

Cycling and walking have come to the forefront, meaning pedestrians and cyclists have taken priority, with widened pavements and improved bike routes. A new vision of urban living is emerging, and time-lapse photography is well placed to effectively document these developments in the urban landscape.

What is the 20-minute neighbourhood?

Also known as the 15-minute city concept, it is all about giving people the ability to fulfill most of their daily needs within a 15 or 20-minute walk from home. The focus is on creating thriving local communities which have a diverse range of accessible services and businesses, improved communal spaces and high streets, and a provision for active travel. The economy is decentralized as higher-earning office workers remain at home, they require local amenities for their everyday needs, be it a decent coffee shop, deli, hairdresser, or gym. Shopping locally is important, but it is enhanced by the modern convenience of online shopping, meaning that residents can still access all their requirements from their home base.  

Capturing the 20-minute neighbourhood

Is the 20-minute neighbourhood a new idea?

The concept has not just emerged with the pandemic. It originated in Portland, Oregon, America, and has also already been implemented in Melbourne, Australia. Other countries have been active in using the idea in their urban planning. The 15-minute idea has been developed by Professor Carlos Moreno of the Sorbonne, Paris, who believes all urban necessities should be close to home – from shops, education, entertainment, and healthcare. Due to his influence, Paris had already increased its provision for pedestrians and cyclists, which expanded further during the pandemic. The whole concept has gained traction globally throughout the COVID-19 era, due to movement restrictions, the rise and success of homeworking, and the realisation that commuting is not an efficient use of time.

What is the future for the 15 minute city post-pandemic?

The concept should continue to flourish even after the current crisis is resolved. Leading design and engineering company Arup has added weight to the argument for moving towards the idea, believing neighbourhoods should be reworked or shaped so that everything is within 15 minutes. With home working set to stay (at some level), local community hubs should thrive, especially as they are deemed good for the wellbeing of the population as well as the planet and sustainability.

15 or 20-minute communities already exist in the UK and more are being created. At Campbell Wharf, in Milton Keynes, a new marina forms an integral part of a new canal-side destination and housing development. Along with the 111-berth wharf, the development has incorporated open green space, walkways into the city, restaurants, and cafes to create an attractive canalside community.


In Milburngate, Durham they are creating a local community, taking elements from the 20-minute neighbourhood concept, with housing, restaurants, cafes, cinema, entertainment, and culture all close by.


Such developments and the reshaping of urban environments will no doubt continue in the ‘new normal’, as people see it as a healthy, attractive, and sustainable way of living. It remains to be seen how far this concept of urban planning is taken, but the wheels are definitely in motion.

How can time-lapse help promote the concept?

The visual record time-lapse photography provides not only allows developers, urban planners, local councils and government to showcase their work publicly but can also be used as an important document to win new contracts, influence future pledges, and plans to invest in the local area.

As the UK’s leading time-lapse video company, we have the expertise and know-how to produce a variety of time-lapse videos to high specification requirements. Please contact us for more details and to discuss your next project.

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