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We are seeking views on this draft guidance on local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods to support the implementation of National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4).

Part 2 - What Local Living Looks Like

Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods

Part 2 of this guidance describes what local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods look like in a Scottish context. The objective of local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods is to provide everyone with easy, sustainable and equitable access to the key facilities and services needed on a daily basis.

Local living

Local living supports people 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 neighbourhood concept aims to provide access to the majority of daily needs within a 20 minute walk, wheel or cycle.

Research shows that 20 minutes (roughly 10 minutes out and the same to return home) is generally the threshold time-period that people are willing to walk to access key destinations. The distance covered in a 20 minute round trip, by walking, will vary according to multiple conditions and factors. The quality of surrounding environment, the different circumstances, age and ability of individuals and their communities, the location, and the topography, are contributory factors in the distance people are willing or able to travel actively to access service.

In rural and island settings, where the geographical context is complex and varied, the aspiration and focus needs to be on enabling people to have access to the services, amenities and facilities needed for a full life. The 20 minutes should not be considered as the defining or limiting factor in for local living in any context but as a useful gauge of the aspiration around access and proximity to services within a neighbourhood to enable people to live well locally.

Key considerations for local living

The concept of local living should not be understood or applied as a template or tick box exercise. It is a flexible approach which can adapt to support the context, local needs and aspirations of communities.

Whatever the context - cities, town, village, rural and island communities - the views and interests of local people must be at the forefront of the decisions made about a place. Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods are not restrictive on people's behaviour and are simply a way of supporting and encouraging communities to access more of their daily needs locally, enabling healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

Daily needs can be defined in terms of the services, amenities and facilities required in a community for daily living. How people's daily needs are met in dispersed, rural and island communities, small towns and larger towns or cities is likely to look quite different. Some core daily needs will remain constant, such as ability to work, eat healthy food, access health services, go to school and spend time outdoors, irrespective of the settlement size and location. Establishing the daily needs in collaboration with a local community is a good starting point when planning or designing for local living.

A Local Living Framework diagram has been developed to provide a consistent structure to consider local living and the daily needs in a place. 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 and Stewardship.

Fig 5; The Local Living Framework

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

The Local Living Framework reflects the structure of existing tools and resources for good placemaking and an outcomes-based approach, including the Place and Wellbeing outcomes and the Place Standard Design version. The Place Standard Design version was specifically created to support the development planning, development management and design processes, and considerations within the framework of the 14 Place Standard themes.

The images below are taken from the Place Standard tool Design Version. The full content of the Place Standard Design version provides detail on how plans and proposals can be developed within the Local Living Framework.

Fig 6; The Place Standard Tool, Design Version
Images of front page and extract from the Place Standard Tool Design Version. The extract shows the categories and key considerations that are also echoed in the Living Well Locally framework and the Place and Wellbeing outcomes. The image demonstrates that there is a read across each.

The following key considerations provide detail on the important issues that should be considered and where appropriate, addressed in delivering successful local living around the categories of Movement, Space, Resources, Civic, and Stewardship.

Movement – key considerations

The local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods concepts support low carbon lifestyles. Local living requires sustainable means of transport to be prioritised, complementing local circumstances and reflecting the National Transport Strategy sustainable transport hierarchy. Implementing the concept nationally, across diverse urban and rural geographies requires flexibility, with focus, in every case, on optimising how we meet and access those daily needs.

The Scottish Government is working towards an ambitious national target to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030, with means to achieve this detailed in the route map. Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods contribute to this goal, helping to improve opportunities for walking, wheeling and cycling, improving access to local shops and services and thereby reducing the need to travel unsustainably. The route map sets out system-level interventions that will support people at the individual level to reduce car use, but also four key sustainable travel behaviours for people to consider when planning a journey, acknowledging that how that happens will vary between individuals and communities across Scotland.

The ways in which we access and fulfil our daily needs locally, through active and sustainable travel, must be considered alongside the means of accessing wider services and amenities, such as those that are further afield, perhaps in a town or city or a neighbouring settlement. NPF4 Policy 13 (Sustainable Transport) (B vii) states that proposals should take into account, at the earliest stage of design, the transport needs of diverse groups including users with protected characteristics to ensure the safety, ease and needs of all users.

Advances in digital technology can improve opportunities to access services remotely for communities. Planning and decision-making to support local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods should consider digital accessibility alongside physical accessibility and spatial proximity, focussing on the range, types and quality of services that are accessible, rather than solely how far an individual is required to travel and how quickly. It is also important to consider and carefully balance the opportunities to access services or facilities remotely with encouraging social and economic activity, to deliver thriving and active neighbourhood, village, town, or city centres.


Place Standard tool theme: Key considerations for local living

Moving Around: Strategic cycle routes, local cycle routes, footpaths, secure cycle storage, shared transport, care share/trip share, inclusive of variety of pedalled vehicles, pavements, active travel networks, connectivity, desire lines, destinations, permeability, surfaces, experience, accessibility, safety, inclusive.

Public Transport: Local, regional, interconnection, commuting, infrastructure, sustainable travel, interchange between public transport & active travel, mobility hubs, modal shifts in transport.

Traffic and Parking: Public realm experience, integrated, safe, controlled, low vehicular volume, speed & noise, perceptual barriers, pedestrian priority, technology, deliveries, uplift, loading, cycle parking, charging, low and no parking provision, types & organisation of parking.

Additional information to support the key considerations on the Movement category is contained in Annex B.

Spaces – key considerations

Buildings, landmarks, greenery, views and natural landscape can help to create attractive places that are important to community life, can enhance wellbeing, encourage investment and create a positive sense of place.

Distinctive streets and spaces support local identity and wayfinding and the location and design of key buildings, including public services, shops and hospitality plays an important role delivering successful local living.

Access to natural spaces and greenspaces for recreation, relaxation, play, and informal sports is essential to support an active and healthy lifestyle and to promote wellbeing as well as supporting environment sustainability and biodiversity.


Place Standard tool theme: Key considerations for local living

Streets & Spaces: Quality of public realm, public space, legibility, orientation, wayfinding, street hierarchies and experience, character, vibrant, usability, inclusivity, multifunctionality, street frontage, thresholds, materials, boundaries.

Natural Space: Parks & open space, natural landscape, visual connection, existing features or landforms, access & connectivity, climate resilience, ecosystems, blue & green infrastructure, biodiversity, growing, productive spaces, educational benefits

Play & Recreation: Variety & quality of play & recreation provision across age groups, care & maintenance, site features, indoor & outdoor sport, health & fitness, seating, social.

Additional information that may be useful to support the key considerations on the Spaces category can be found in Annex B.

Resources – key considerations

Local living focusses on convenient access the resources, facilities and amenities in an area are an essential element of achieving a liveable and successful community.

Access to public services such as healthcare, education and libraries, as well as shops, cafes, leisure facilities, local employment opportunities and social spaces should be considered alongside the level and type of housing provision. Whether town centre regeneration or new housing developments, creating the conditions for local living requires a holistic focus on creating places and supporting healthy, sustainable lifestyles, not simply on the development and allocation of land.


Place Standard tool theme: Key considerations for local living

Facilities & Services: Education, health facilities, social care, lifetime support, access & connectivity, mixed use, range & variety, associations, quality of services, sustainable provision, adaptation, healthy food, utilities, communications, repair, waste & recycling.

Work & Economy: Active local economy, quality of employment, training opportunities, work spaces, working from home, access to education, community enterprise, third sector, entrepreneurship, wider impact, local businesses

Housing & Community: Relationship with local area, range of tenures, types & sizes, accessibility, adaptability, social integration, shared resources, ongoing management, community assets, provision of communal facilities, energy & sustainability.

Social Interaction: Social spaces (indoor & outdoor), local groups & organisations, public spaces, informal social space, communal activities, welcoming spaces, tackling inequalities, cohesion.

Additional information that may be useful to support the key considerations on the category 'Resources' can be found in Annex B.

Civic – key considerations

Civic activities involve local people coming together to engage in community activities specific to their local area and/or common interests. The identity of a community or neighbourhood is intrinsically linked to civic activity within that area.

Civic identity, activities and capacity is complex and influenced by a number of factors. Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods has an important role to play in supporting civic life, through creating successful places with strong, positive identities and spaces for public life.


Place Standard tool theme: Key considerations for local living

Identity & Belonging: Culture, heritage, topography, landscape, landmarks, gateways, design codes, local architectural styles / distinctiveness, perception, legibility, encouraging diversity, sharing networks.

Feeling Safe: Passive surveillance, reactivation of derelict spaces, weather, climate emergency, routes & access, boundaries, play, connections, trust, care.

Additional information that may be useful to support the key considerations on the Civic category can be found in Annex B.

Stewardship – key considerations

When places work well for communities, the local population is more likely to be engaged and able to influence decision-making processes. Places that are cared for promote positive and secure connections, while those that are not looked after properly can adversely affect people's wellbeing.

The social and physical environment helps to shape ways in which community resilience is built and maintained, and local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods can help to create places where people feel connected and are encouraged to participate in community life.

NPF4 sets out as a cross cutting outcome, the vision of a fair and inclusive planning system that helps to eliminate discrimination and promote equality. The planning system provides opportunities to engage in development planning and decisions about future development and this engagement should be early, collaborative, meaningful and proportionate.


Place Standard tool theme: Key considerations for local living

Care & Maintenance: Rights & responsibilities, public & private, housing management, climate emergency, weather events, long-term occupation, operational costs, procurement, longevity, fitness for purpose, communication, everyday care.

Influence and Sense of control: Consultation, self-initiation, long-term management, community ownership, community capacity building, evaluation & ongoing improvement.

Additional information that may be useful to support the key considerations on the Stewardship category can be found in Annex B.


Email: localliving&20mn@gov.scot

Back to top