Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods - planning guidance: consultation

We are seeking views on this draft guidance on local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods to support the implementation of National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4).

Executive Summary

The complex challenges we face - from the climate and nature crises to poverty and disadvantage, and stark health inequalities – require a joined-up and collaborative approach to deliver positive outcomes for people and the environment.

Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods can help to deliver the healthy, sustainable and resilient places required to support a good quality of life and balance our environmental impact.

The Local Living and 20 minute neighbourhood concepts aim to create places where people can meet the majority of their daily needs within a reasonable distance of their home, by walking, wheeling or cycling.

Local Living

Local living provides people with the opportunity to meet the majority of their daily needs within a reasonable distance of their home.

20 minute neighbourhoods

The 20 minute neighbourhood concept is one method of supporting local living.

The 20 minute neighbourhoods concept aims to provide access to the majority of daily needs within a 20 minute walk, wheel or cycle.


Climate and environment

Local living can play an important role in balancing our relationship with nature and the environment. Providing good quality opportunities to walk, wheel or cycle to the places we need to access most regularly can help to reduce the reliance on private car use, help to cut emissions, improve air quality and provide more space for nature and biodiversity. Retrofitting and repurposing existing buildings reduces the emissions associated with new construction and retains the embodied carbon within existing structures.

Health and wellbeing

Local living can help to improve wellbeing, increasing the opportunity for people to move around in healthy ways, encouraging physical activity and social interaction and providing access to good quality greenspace.

Local economy

Planning and designing places which support a good range of local services can provide access to employment and training opportunities, increase footfall for existing businesses, help support regeneration of our town and local centres and support effective community wealth building.

Quality of life

Providing places which are attractive, vibrant and that meet the needs of local communities enhances quality of life, helping to improve social interaction, building social capital and creating resilient and diverse places.

Key characteristics of local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods

National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) Policy 15 sets out a range of services and amenities that should be considered by development proposals in contributing to local living.

Local Living and 20 minute neighbourhoods

Policy Principles

Policy Intent:

To encourage, promote and facilitate the application of the Place Principle and create connected and compact neighbourhoods where people can meet the majority of their daily needs within a reasonable distance of their home, preferably by walking, wheeling or cycling or using sustainable transport options.

Policy Outcomes:

  • Places are planned to improve local living in a way that reflects local circumstances.
  • A network of high-quality, accessible, mixed-use neighbourhoods which support health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities and are resilient to the effects of climate change.
  • New and existing communities are planned together with homes and the key local infrastructure including schools, community centres, local shops, greenspaces, health and social care, digital and sustainable transport links.

Local Development Plans:

LDPs should support local living, including 20 minute neighbourhoods within settlements, through the spatial strategy, associated site briefs and masterplans. The approach should take into account the local context, consider the varying settlement patterns and reflect the particular characteristics and challenges faced by each place. Communities and businesses will have an important role to play in informing this, helping to strengthen local living through their engagement with the planning system.

Policy 15

a) Development proposals will contribute to local living including, where relevant, 20 minute neighbourhoods. To establish this, consideration will be given to existing settlement pattern, and the level and quality of interconnectivity of the proposed development with the surrounding area, including local access to:

  • sustainable modes of transport including local public transport and safe, high quality walking, wheeling and cycling networks;
  • employment;
  • shopping;
  • health and social care facilities;
  • childcare, schools and lifelong learning opportunities;
  • playgrounds and informal play opportunities, parks, green streets and spaces, community gardens, opportunities for food growth and allotments, sport and recreation facilities;
  • publicly accessible toilets;
  • affordable and accessible housing options, ability to age in place and housing diversity.

Policy impact:

  • Just Transition
  • Conserving and recycling assets
  • Local living
  • Compact urban growth
  • Rebalanced development
  • Rural revitalisation

Key policy connections:

  • Tackling the climate and nature crises
  • Climate mitigation and adaptation
  • Sustainable transport
  • Design, quality and place
  • Infrastructure first
  • Quality homes
  • Blue and green infrastructure
  • Play, recreation and sport
  • Community wealth building
  • City, town, local and commercial centres
  • Retail

Extract from NPF4 – Policy 15 Local Living and 20 Minute Neighbourhoods

To support application of NPF4 policy, and the broad consideration of daily needs within communities, a Local Living Framework has been developed. This framework is intended to act as a consistent structure to consider the key characteristics of local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods in development planning, decision-making and in design proposals.

The Framework sets out 14 key themes, derived from the Place Standard tool, grouped into 5 overarching categories as the key considerations for local living. The categories are; Movement; Space; Resources; Civic, Stewardship.

Fig 1; Local Living Framework diagram

The overarching categories and the key considerations are;

Category: Movement

Key considerations associated with ‘Movement’ are: Moving around, Public transport, Traffic and Parking

Category: Space

Key considerations associated with ‘Space’ are: Streets and spaces, Natural space, Play and recreation

Category: Resources

Key considerations associated with ‘Resources’ are: Social Interaction, Housing and community, Work and local economy, support and services

Category: Civic

Key considerations associated with ‘Civic’ are: Feeling safe, Identity and belonging

Category: Stewardship

Key considerations associated with ‘Stewardship’ are: Influence and sense of control, Care and Maintenance

Delivering local living

Local living is a place-based approach that requires a full understanding of the context and consideration of all the assets, opportunities and needs in a place.

Many existing places already operate as 20 minute neighbourhoods, some may require change to improve their liveability and new and emerging places should be designed with local living at their heart.

Delivering a structured approach to local living can be supported through the following steps:

1. Understand context - understanding the context of the place through the use of quantitative and qualitative information.

2. Collaborate, plan, design - developing collaborative models of working to inform place-based planning and design processes.

3. Implement and review - aligning investment, developing delivery capacity and embedding in ways of working.

Fig 2; Steps for a structured approach to local living
described in body of report

Local living is a flexible concept and should be adapted to support the context, local needs and aspirations of communities. For example, communities in remote rural or island locations may not be able to easily access the majority of daily needs within a 20 minute walk, wheel or cycle. However, engaging directly with local communities to understand pressures and opportunities can help develop approaches to local living that are appropriate and that help to maximise the benefits for local people and the environment.

Collaboration, participation and place-based working are essential components to deliver local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods. Local liveability requires that places are inclusive and enable everyone to live well locally and to participate and contribute to decisions about their places.

Place making is incremental and the tools and approaches noted in this guidance are suggested as a means to gather the type and quality of information needed to inform strategies, decisions and actions that can be useful in supporting sustainable, healthy and resilient places.


Email: localliving&20mn@gov.scot

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