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.

6. Part 4 – Case studies

Q8 asked for respondents’ views on the six case studies contained in Part 4 of the draft guidance; just over half of respondents left an open-text response. This chapter presents general feedback on the case studies, followed by more specific feedback relating directly to each of the case studies.

Q8: Looking at part 4 of the draft guidance: do the case studies provide a useful and appropriate range of examples of good practice?
n= % Yes % No
All answering (%) 563 23 77
Individuals 479 12 88
Organisations 84 88 12

Among organisations who answered Q8, 88% indicated that the case studies were a useful and appropriate range of examples. At least three quarters of organisations in most sectors appreciated the case studies, with the lowest levels of agreement among housing/property organisations (57%) and other organisations (67%). Among individuals, 88% felt the case studies were not helpful or appropriate.

Positive feedback

The case studies were well-received by many respondents and were frequently described as helpful, interesting and useful. Many felt the case studies were comprehensive and wide-ranging, appreciating the variety of different approaches, locations, community sizes and geographies they covered. A few added that they thought the case studies were effective at explaining the concept of local living in an understandable and relatable way.

“The case studies are useful as they cover a wide range of urban and rural areas of various sizes across the country, demonstrating that the delivery of local living and twenty minute neighbourhoods can be implemented across a wide range of towns, cities, and regions.” – Environmental Protection Scotland

“The broad range of areas used in the case studies is particularly helpful as they each have different challenges to consider which can be applied to council own areas with similar challenges.” – East Renfrewshire Council

“The different approaches taken in each place… provide practical inspiration that other stakeholders can learn from as they consider their own local circumstances.” – SURF

Negative feedback

However, many others did not consider the case studies to be a useful tool for communicating information about local living, with some describing them as vague, generic and one-dimensional. Several called for more detail to be included, such as referring to: timings and key milestones; budgeting and resourcing information; planning and decision-making processes; business generation and economic growth; other aspects of climate-change mitigation activity, such as renewable energy; and monitoring and evaluation processes.

Concerns were raised that the case studies do not reflect the wider geography of Scotland; for example, some felt there is not enough representation of places outside the central belt or from areas with no public transport links. One questioned if it was necessary to include two case studies from Edinburgh. Some added that the case studies do not reflect the reality of living in rural areas, noting that the active travel options discussed in the case studies are often not feasible in such places due to the condition of local roads and the terrain of the landscape. A few felt it was unhelpful to present case studies of large, urban, populous areas like Edinburgh alongside those about smaller communities like Huntly in Aberdeenshire, fearing it invites unfair and unhelpful comparisons.

Some individuals expressed suspicion that the case study areas had been ‘cherrypicked’ to show successful examples or that areas with less capacity for local living had been omitted. Others felt that the case studies present an overly positive picture and minimize any potential disadvantages or detriments of 20 minute neighbourhoods.

A small number criticised the absence of any references to accessibility for people with disabilities or additional support needs within the case studies.

Suggested improvements

A number of improvements to the case studies were suggested. For example, a few respondents said they would have preferred the case studies to follow a more uniform structure, and others felt an introductory contextual paragraph explaining how and why each case study was chosen would have been a useful addition.

“It would be helpful to the reader/guidance user for those case studies to be structured clearly in an order/format to reflect the range of differing geographic scales and locations, and an explanation as to why they were chosen and also why the approach is suitable for the scale it has been applied to.” - Perth & Kinross Council

A few respondents, including The Highland Council, suggested that producing case studies in video format would be helpful in making the application of the policy more accessible and inspiring to the public. The Highland Council also noted that the graphics and figures in the case studies do not have captions and suggested adding these to provide more context for the reader. A few others found the images in the case studies to be blurry and unclear and called for high-quality images to be used.

Some suggested stronger links between the guidance and the case studies, for example, by referencing the case studies at relevant points in the document. Others called for a wider variety of case studies, including smaller-scale projects, mid-size towns, and non-council-led initiatives i.e. community partnership or private sector-led. A few said they would welcome more evidence of community input in the case studies, such as quotes from residents living in the area.

“Maybe there isn’t community capacity enough to express need and no resources to do anything about them. As well as guidance for the best scenario, and possibly even more, guidance is needed for the worst scenario. Examples of small-scale interventions or small decisions that can have a significant impact… We would also encourage the use of personas to exemplify “everyone” and the range of different daily needs, with an emphasis on those with greatest need and most limited resources, to show how local living can support a fairer society. We find that personas are very helpful in allowing consideration of different experiences of a place.” Architecture and Design Scotland


A few described the Aberdeenshire case study as less detailed than the other case studies and called for more specific information about what actions were taken and what the outcomes were. One said it was ‘premature’ to use the town of Peterhead as an example of good practice, given how early it is in the journey towards local living. Food Standards Scotland appreciated that the case study highlighted the importance of having access to healthy food rather than food more generally.

Nestrans felt that the description of Aberdeenshire, specifically the phrase “from the Cairngorms to the suburbs of Aberdeen”, does not reflect the diversity of communities in the area and suggested amending the wording to: “260,000 people live in Aberdeenshire, in different types of communities from the rural towns/villages such as those in the Cairngorms National Park, the coastal communities such as Peterhead and Fraserburgh, and the suburb towns to Aberdeen such as Westhill and Portlethen.” Nestrans also called for a reference to Integrated Travel Towns to be included in the case study.


A few felt there was a good level of detail in the Edinburgh case study. Two highlighted the Powderhall example as being particularly useful, although one said more information on the strategy that City of Edinburgh Council used to achieve the results would be helpful. However, a few individuals criticised the perceived lack of public consultation in the example used in the Edinburgh case study. It was described as being solely from the perspective of the planners, with no consideration of the views of the citizens who live in the area. The Improvement Service suggested including a reference to the Rapid Scoping Assessment - now called Place and Wellbeing Assessments - which compared the 20 minute neighbourhood approach with the traditional approach in Edinburgh.

Stewarton, East Ayrshire

Respondents commonly welcomed the ‘lessons learned’ section in the Stewarton case study and called for this to be replicated in the other case studies. A few acknowledged the ‘lesson learned’ regarding the challenge of retrofitting the 20 minute neighbourhood principles into existing settlements and highlighted this as particularly important.

“We note that the East Ayrshire Case Study includes a paragraph on the lessons learned from the process. This is very useful in providing a level of critical assessment and knowledge sharing that provides valuable insight into the potential pitfalls (as well as the successes) of local living implementation. We believe all case studies in this section of the guidance would benefit from a ‘lessons learned’ component.” – RTPI Scotland

While a few appreciated that surveys and data collection had taken place, a small number commented on the small sample size and highlighted this as a limitation of the findings.

Wester Hailes, Edinburgh

Few respondents commented specifically on the Wester Hailes case study. West Lothian Council highlighted it as a good example of securing and utilising funding to achieve what was originally identified as a key need; in this case the lack of indoor community meeting space. Fife Council added that it demonstrates the importance of partnership working between the local authority and the community. Geddes Consulting highlighted that Wester Hailes’ classification as an ‘accessible small town’ is inconsistent with Scotland’s Urban Rural Classification, which identifies Wester Hailes as part of a Large Urban Area.

Drymen, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Only five respondents commented directly on the Drymen case study. Nestrans advised that it would be valuable to mention the role of tourism in local living in this case study. Two reiterated the challenges related to the lack of amenities in the local area. One felt that the Drymen case study “helpfully shows that councils should treat 20 minutes as a guide time rather than an absolute.” One felt that the map infographic in the case study would benefit from being a larger size and with higher resolution so that the text can be made out more clearly.


Several respondents welcomed the inclusion of an island community as the subject of a case study. Shetland Island Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar welcomed the references to Shetland’s Main Issues Report and Transport Strategy. A few appreciated the case study’s acknowledgement that a 20 minute neighbourhood may not be possible in Shetland. They endorsed having less focus on a time-limit and supported reframing the approach around simply living locally.

“Drymen and Shetland case studies show much can be achieved in rural areas when you break out of the mental constraint of taking the 20 minute neighbourhood literally. It shows how Living well Locally is a tool for engaging with local people to find out what it is they would like to change to improve their quality of lives.” – Individual

Scottish Land & Estates called for more consistency between the approaches in the case studies and the suggestions in the guidance, pointing out that the Shetland Active Travel Strategy “does not appear to align with a suggestion to cluster and concentrate services”.

Suggestions for other case studies

Some respondents suggested other areas and initiatives which they felt would make worthy case studies. These included: the regeneration of Achtercairn, Gairloch, and Craigmillar, Edinburgh; community-led developments in Staffin, Skye and of Ardgeal near Kincraig in the Cairngorms; the place-making approach taken by North Lanarkshire Council to transform its town centres; and International examples in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden


Email: Chief.Planner@gov.scot

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