Local Living and 20 Minute Neighbourhood - draft planning guidance: consultation analysis

We consulted on the Local Living and 20 Minute Neighbourhood: draft planning guidance between 27 April and 20 July 2023. The 10 consultation questions aimed to gather a broad range of public and stakeholder views on each element of the guidance.

9. Individuals’ perceptions of local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods

The vast majority of the 510 individuals who responded to the consultation expressed negative views towards the principle of local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods. A large number left the same negative comment repeatedly – 112 individuals left exactly the same comment at nine or all 10 of the open questions in the consultation, meaning their answers made up over one quarter of the 4,000 comments received in total.

Many individuals’ comments stemmed either from a concern that the policies will be implemented or imposed to restrict people from travelling more than 20 minutes from their homes, or from a misunderstanding that all services people need should be accessible within 20 minutes. While these views are important to consider, they do not directly address the focus of the consultation i.e. the content of the draft planning guidance. For transparency and completeness, this chapter provides an overview of the range of themes expressed in these comments.

Anti-democratic restriction on freedom of movement

By far the most prevalent themes raised by this group of respondents related to their perception of the anti-democratic nature of local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods. Comments fell into three strands: how the policy restricts movement, general comments, and that a decision has already been made.

Respondents frequently expressed the view that 20 minute neighbourhoods were to be imposed on them and that this represented an infringement on their human rights and limits their freedom of movement. Terms such as ‘prisons’, ‘ghettos’ and being penned or caged in were often used to express how respondents felt they would be restricted.

More broadly, this feeling led many to describe the proposals as government overreach or authoritarian, totalitarian or dystopian in nature. More specifically, some others suggested that introducing these measures was part of a wider conspiracy under the guise of the World Economic Forum’s Agenda 2030.

While policy of 20 minute neighbourhoods was widely consulted on as part of the development of NPF4, another strand of this theme was a perception that a decision on proceeding with local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods had already been made. These respondents argued that that the policy had not been consulted on or voted for, and some specifically suggested that the consultation paper was biased in presenting the concepts as going ahead.

“Restricting the free movement of people is a terrible concept. What would be helpful is cancelling this completely.” – Individual

“These are not things that anyone has voted for, and such attempts to radically shift the style of living should not be being processed by the back door. If indeed these are so critical and with such overwhelming support, explain exactly what these entail and what is intended, and have a referendum on them.” – Individual

General negative comments

Many individuals repeatedly expressed negative views across the consultation. These comments were often brief, but typically expressed a view that local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods are a bad idea and neither wanted nor needed in Scotland. As a result, they called for the plans to be stopped or cancelled, or highlighted that they would continue to strongly oppose the implementation of the policy. A few argued that the plans were a waste of time and taxpayer money.

Impractical or unrealistic

The impractical nature of the proposals was repeatedly raised by many individuals. While these themes aligned with challenges noted in detail throughout this report, most comments provided little detail. They typically stated that:

  • The concepts were unrealistic to implement, without elaborating on why. Terms such as fantasy, pipe dream, and pie in the sky were often used.
  • A lack of services and effective infrastructure means people would be unable to access everything they need in their local area, and that there are also insufficient public finances to improve those provisions.
  • Many people have work or family commitments beyond 20 minutes from their home and, therefore, it would be impossible to live their lives fully if they were restricted to their immediate local area. A few specifically highlighted concerns about a lack of job opportunities within each area.
  • Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods are impractical in rural areas and only appropriate for urban areas.

“Improve local town centres, local businesses and public transport that actually links communities and places where people want to go - that's the way to organically bring about 20 minute neighbourhoods, not by forcing them on people with fines and security cameras.” - Individual

“This is absolute nonsense and makes no sense. I work over an hour away from home and have to commute. Stop interfering in people's lives.” – Individual

“I work in the NHS which is currently 20-25 mins away via car. Would I then need to seek employment elsewhere? My son lives maybe same distance away; does that then mean I cannot see him again?” - Individual

Criticism of government

Criticism of the Scottish Government, SNP and Scottish Green Party, and local government was evident in comments. Respondents expressed a range of views, including a dislike of individual politicians, lack of effectiveness of central and local government, a distrust of government, and calls for a greater focus on other policies such as health and transport.

A small number of respondents repeatedly either raised their dislike of the government’s focus on tackling climate change or questioned whether climate change exists.


Email: Chief.Planner@gov.scot

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