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We are seeking views on this draft guidance on local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods to support the implementation of National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4).

Annex A: Local Living Framework additional information

The below provides additional information supports the key considerations on the categories within the Local living Framework

Additional information on Movement category

Moving Around

The quality of the physical environment can influence the range and type of activities that go on in a place. It can impact frequency of use and thereby limit or promote opportunities for interaction and connection with the place and between community members.

Places where local living is prioritised are designed to be safe, accessible, and well connected. Streets and public realm are well overlooked, safe for all to use, and free of clutter. Clear signage, vistas and landmarks helps legibility, adding to feeling safe and are designed to maximise positive pedestrian experience. Routes are engaging, inviting and attractive with human-scale detail in the buildings and landscape features along the way, with several points of interest, places to stop and rest, with benches and seating. Routes segregated from vehicles are often more inviting and have better air quality. Such measures result in a willingness and desire to walk, wheel and cycle, make it easier to make sustainable choices about mobility, encourage physical activity and social interaction.

The quality of the walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure in an urban environment can be adversely impacted if there is a lack of human-scale detail in the buildings and landscape features, few points of interest and little activity along the route or if that route is in poor condition. The same logic can be applied in a rural environment where people are often willing to walk, wheel or cycle a little further if the quality and the interest along the route is engaging, inviting and attractive.

Large scale urban environments may boost physical accessibility by adapting urban blocks to increase connectivity through utilising lanes and alleyways such as with Glasgow City Council's Avenues project; or by prioritising pedestrians as with the Barcelona Superblocks.

In some rural and remote rural areas of Scotland it may not be possible for people to access all their daily needs by walking, wheeling and cycling, and a flexibility of approach is required that considers a broad range of solutions. In such contexts, the people living there are best placed to inform how settlements might work across the unique geography in a rural place to assemble and connect networks of settlements to enable movement and fulfil their daily needs, particularly where settlements are small and remote from others.

In addition, where appropriate, encouraging concentrations of facilities and services within well-planned local centres, such as town, city and neighbourhood centres, can help achieve the benefits of local living and 20 minutes neighbourhoods that larger settlements enjoy, reducing unsustainable travel, increasing social interaction and to help develop local economies.

Public Transport

Public transport links, bus shelters, cycle parking are key elements of local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods. These support increased movement by sustainable travel modes, reducing the reliance on private car use and providing connection to facilities and services that may be outwith the immediate neighbourhood area.

Public transport stops should be located and designed to be easily accessible by all pedestrians, to be safe and attractive and to integrate with the surrounding environment and land uses. Locating public transport stops near junctions or specific passenger destinations (schools, shops, etc.), can improve accessibility and help to create natural gathering points.

Successful 20 minute neighbourhoods and models of local living will consider the ability of the place to connect to high quality, reliable, safe and connected public transport or, in rural and island areas, for planned alternatives where viability may be more challenging. Further strategies such as public and community transport provision and services that reduce the need to travel, such as peripatetic public services (health visitors for example), digital services such as health consultations and government services, and deliveries can be particularly supportive for local living in rural and island communities.

In rural and island contexts, the viability of public transport can be challenging, often relying on subsidies. Community transport, demand-responsive transport, car clubs, volunteer-run car sharing, can contribute to the mix of alternative and demand responsive mobility.

Traffic & parking

NPF4 promotes a place-based approach to consider how to reduce car-dominance. Car dominance can be reduced through measures such as low traffic schemes, shared transport options, designing–in speed controls, bus/cycle priority, cycling and pedestrianisation and minimising space dedicated to car parking. A Mobility As A Service (MAAS) scheme operating Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) could be the alternative for public transport in rural and island contexts.

Reducing car use and dominance can also be achieved by ensuring that routes connect to and offer easy access to services and amenities and are at least, as easy and convenient to access as by car.

Planning and design approaches can be adopted to encourage vehicular movement at safer speeds where car dominance, speed and volume are controlled through integral elements of the place, such as building alignment, location and amount of car parking, road narrowing, surfaces, landscaping and other public realm design features.

Provisions for vehicular parking, especially for people with specific needs, for home deliveries and short term visitors such as health care providers should be incorporated sensitively to ensure the streets and spaces in the neighbourhoods are accessible and inclusive.

Additional information on Spaces category

Streets & Spaces

The layout and design of new streets and spaces, or building proposals and interventions should respond to and/or enhance the existing context, using location, form, block structure, frontages, aspect and topography to create places that are welcoming and distinctive and enable local living.

The streets and spaces that we use to access our services and facilities have the potential to incorporate multifunctional space to integrate nature-based solutions to issues such as flooding or urban heat. Increasing the multifunctionality of streets and spaces is an important function of planning in helping to address the climate emergency and to support social, civic and economic activity and local living. Integrating elements such as street trees, urban swales and raingardens can provide attractive and sustainable solutions to issues such as air quality, urban heat and flooding.

Consideration should also be given to how negative impacts of streets and spaces are reduced and/or eliminated including blight from vacant and derelict land or poorly maintained areas that may lead to anti-social behaviour and stigmatise communities.

Natural Space

Local access to high quality natural space or greenspace is an essential feature of local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods. Spending time in natural spaces or greenspaces improves health and wellbeing, provides opportunities for connections with nature and for play and activities outdoors, fundamental in physical, cognitive, social and emotional development.

Planning to maximise exposure and access to nature and green space can increase exposure to wellbeing benefits as well as our sense of place. Nature contributes to over-all attractiveness and quality of a space or a route which can potentially lead to an increase in people travelling actively. For example, safe and attractive routes through greenspace as part of everyday travel to schools or nurseries can benefit children, young people and caregivers, improving access to cleaner air, providing opportunities for socialising, limiting exposure to traffic and providing protective physical and mental wellbeing effects.

The design-led incorporation of place specific, nature-based solutions can assist with identifying the strategies and actions required to improve climate resilience and the sustainability credentials in a place. Multifunctional solutions can deliver multiple benefits. Everyday water management and flooding attenuation strategies should also consider the multifunctional benefits that integrated solutions can bring about. Design of such schemes should be centred on increasing biodiversity and on the protection, restoration and re-instating of nature in a place.

Careful planning and design of spaces to incorporate nature rich, blue/ green spaces is also crucial in supporting nature and biodiversity, providing habitat for wildlife and pollination, as well as helping to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of the climate emergency.

Play & Recreation

Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods should integrate safe, accessible and attractive play and recreation opportunities that support all members of the community. This may be formal or informal play opportunities for children and young people, as well as access to sports, culture, art activities and leisure activities.

Play and recreation facilities may be formal, such as equipped children's play areas or sports facilities, or they may be more informal spaces that invite more creative play responses, particularly from children and young people. Supporting informal, multifunctional spaces for play and recreation has multiple benefits for communities including positive uses of land, helping adapt to and mitigate climate change, managing surface water runoff and reducing flooding.

Productive spaces, such as community food growing and allotments can also be important elements of local living, providing benefits for health, wellbeing and social interaction as well as access to healthy, affordable food.

Additional information on Resources category

Facilities and Services

The range of services supporting local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods are best informed by the specific context and the daily needs as identified and established with the local community. These services could range from picking up a daily newspaper and essential groceries; accessing a pharmacy or visiting a GP; paying bills or banking; attending school or participating in training and volunteering; as well as opportunities for local employment and child care provision. Other services may be access to local library service, community hub, youth club, gym or crèche.

The viability of access to services will be dependent on issues such as population density, layout, historical land uses and street patterns as well as specific community needs. A thorough qualitative and quantitative understanding of the existing facilities and current and future needs is required to develop an appropriate approach to supporting local living through new development and regeneration.

Subject to the size of settlement, concentrating services and facilities within an area, or areas, can help to create local centres of activity. Depending on the area a local centre serves, and its location and connectivity with neighbouring centres, there should be a range and mix of uses, services and facilities that meet the daily needs of the community and generate footfall to support long-term vitality and viability.

Planning and maintaining an appropriate range of services, facilities or amenities requires engagement with local residents. Greater engagement may be required between partners in rural communities, where the delivery of services and extent of local infrastructure may be dispersed and not necessarily be supported by the immediate density of population.

Digital and technological innovation and advancements in science are helping providers consider the design of service provision in our communities. Health and social care provision, for example, can be delivered through a combination of peripatetic services (such as health visitors, home care workers and visiting clinics) and digital services (such as online consultations).

Work & Local Economy

Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods involve planning and design approaches that respond to local economic priorities and that identify, locate and deliver sustainable employment, encourages local spend and incentivises investment through establishing thriving, active environments. The type and distribution of facilities and services within an area has a significant impact on the ability to source good local employment and to sustain local economic activity that positively supports the community.

Planning for local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods that supports a positive approach to local economic activity is an important element in delivering Community Wealth Building. Community Wealth Building is an approach adopted in Scotland designed to harness the economic leverage of local 'anchor' organisations (such as local councils, health, universities, colleges, housing associations, or large local private sector employers) to tackle long standing systematic challenges and structural inequalities within our communities. It seeks to transform our local and regional economic systems to enable more local communities and people to own, have a stake in, access and benefit from the wealth our economy generates. Community Wealth Building can deliver more and better jobs, business growth, community-owned assets and shorter supply chains creating greater resilience and supporting net zero ambitions.

Housing & Community

Housing is the building block of our neighbourhoods and communities and is an essential part of local infrastructure and identity. Housing density, numbers, typologies, layouts and connectivity are key determinants in achieving successful local living. Increasing the quantity quality city, town and local centre living is a key outcome of the Town Centre Action Plan in order to deliver the Town Centre Vision and the Town Centre First Principle and is aligned with NPF4 policy 27 on City, Town, Local and Commercial Centres.

New housing should be planned to integrate with and support existing homes and communities and local infrastructure including schools, community centres, local shops, greenspaces and health and social care services.

Homes should be planned to meet local needs. Consideration should be given to the mix of house type, tenure and size available to ensure there are accessible options and choices to meet people's physical and financial circumstances and their lifestyles, including the ability to age in a place. Providing a range of housing options can support people to remain within the same neighbourhood or community as life circumstances change.

Social Interaction

Providing formal and informal opportunities for good quality social interaction is central to improving health and wellbeing outcomes as well as improving the resilience of communities. This interaction may take place in a variety of ways, such as in indoor facilities (local clubs, community facilities, places of worship, hospitality venues) and in outdoor settings including parks, squares and civic areas, attractive streets, and natural spaces. Social interaction can also be encouraged by planning that minimises car use and that promotes pedestrian footfall. Housing layouts, densities and connections are important considerations in supporting social interaction that are supported through local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods.

Good quality social interaction requires planning and design that supports passive supervision of public areas, increases footfall and limits physical barriers to deliver places that feel safe and that are inclusive.

The design and location of infrastructure such as outdoor seating, cycle parking and play areas is important to encouraging social interaction as part of local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods, and issues such orientation, sun, shading or shelter are important considerations in creating attractive and successful neighbourhoods.

Good social networks can offer a range of supports, giving people a way to cope with problems and reduce stress levels. Importantly, living in a supportive and inclusive community may benefit those in lower income groups more than others and can be an important factor in reducing health inequalities.

Additional information on Civic category

Identity and Belonging

Traditionally, local, village, town or city centres are where the civic, commercial, and cultural activities located. The centre of any scale of settlements, whether it is of a city, town, village or neighbourhood, should be connected, welcoming, distinctive, accessible, vibrant and resilient, for people to live, work, visit and enjoy.

Centres are a natural focus of civic life and of 20 minute neighbourhoods, providing communities with an identifiable and convenient location to access the goods, services and recreational opportunities they need for everyday living. Local centres should be well-connected and accessible by a range of sustainable transport modes and active travel links.

The consideration of contextual information such as culture, heritage, topography, existing built form and landscape character is important to deliver successful local living. Re-purposing of existing underused buildings, buildings at risk, spaces or landmarks can help preserve the local identity and character of a place. Buildings and spaces should create positive and distinctive places with landmarks that assist with wayfinding and reinforce and respond to local character.

Identity and belonging are supported by natural features as well as buildings and the role of greenspace in supporting a positive identity is important. Nature-based solutions can provide environmental benefits, help to create positive physical environments, and also reflect changing contemporary approaches to how places are designed, managed and maintained.

Greater levels of neighbourliness and a sense of belonging to the community are likely to nurture community wellbeing and to stimulate community activities aimed at improving the local environment. Such activities can in turn help to reinforce and develop further feelings of neighbourliness and community capacity.

Feeling safe

Movement, activity, and engagement in places requires the community to feel safe and secure. Perception of safety is related to a wide variety of factors including the effects of vehicle traffic, the level of passive supervision and the presence of other people, anti-social behaviour, play spaces, lighting and derelict or vacant areas.

Areas for play and recreation should be well positioned for safety and security, and easy to access in a safe manner, such as being positioned to avoid high traffic routes or to minimise requirements to interact with traffic or cross roads. People may be less inclined to access areas that are poorly lit or where they feel exposed or vulnerable.

The quality of the immediate environment can play an important role in ensuring that places feel safe. Active ground floor areas, whether where primary residential frontages or commercial space can provide active and positive edges that feel safe and welcoming. The design and specification of edges, boundaries and landscaping can also be an important factor and can support strong connections between buildings and the public realm.

Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods can also encourage social interaction, increased trust and security within a community. Places must also be inclusive and enable everyone to live well locally and to participate and contribute to decisions about their places. The consideration of how people move around and the opportunities for them to connect and interact with other people and their places and other people is a key consideration when thinking about access and inclusion.

Additional information on Stewardship category

Care and maintenance

Addressing the climate emergency and nature crisis requires us to ensure that existing assets are maintained and capitalised on, limiting adverse environmental impacts and waste. Land and buildings that are vacant and derelict can be a blight on communities and disincentivise investment. NPF4 sets out a policy intent to encourage, promote and facilitate the reuse of brownfield, vacant and derelict land and empty buildings, and to help reduce the need for greenfield development. Community activity and ownership can also encourage and allow local people to participate in the care and maintenance of their local areas and buildings.

How well a place is maintained can influence neighbourhood satisfaction, perceptions of safety and the future investment. It can also have a significant impact on supporting social connections and neighbourliness within communities. Poor maintenance can create negative perceptions of a place, damage community resilience and lead to the erosion of physical and social assets.

Influence and sense of control

The influence and sense of control that individuals feel over their lives can have important impacts on health and wellbeing, as well as on the ability of people to develop their potential.

Social isolation and a lack of support can be major causes of stress, particularly for those living on low incomes and for those with children. For people living in difficult or chaotic circumstances, where they may feel they have little control of influence over their lives, the effects of living with stress for long periods of time can have an adverse, and often significant, impact on their wellbeing.

Delivering local living that meet everyone's needs requires a process that ensures that the ideas and views of our most vulnerable groups are considered and addressed. Communities that experience disadvantage may lack capacity to engage and participate in local processes, take action, access funding and deliver change in their local areas.

Addressing this capacity gap is essential if inequalities are to be addressed. Some population groups may be particularly marginalised, and it is often those who experience barriers to engaging with public services that would benefit most from participation in decision-making. Collaboration and innovative engagement in place-based activity can capture the important knowledge and views of diverse groups and help guide processes that are truly inclusive and most likely to be effective.

Engagement should cover all members of a community in order to understand the physical, social and economic context and to deliver local living that fully addresses the needs and assets in a place. It is essential, and a statutory requirement, that people with protected characteristics, and including people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, are given particular support to express their views on plans and decisions, with consultations designed to meet the communication needs of people.


Email: localliving&20mn@gov.scot

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