MacKay Hannah

Planning, place and 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland: What is the recipe for success?

Wed 22nd Jun 2022

OVERVIEW View Conference Agenda

The Scottish Government wants to partner with Scottish councils and others to deliver 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland. Its intent to do so is included in the 2020-21 Programme for Government and many places in Scotland do seem to have the building blocks needed to become 20 minute neighbourhoods. However the same is also true of many other communities globally – and yet few have so far succeeded. So what does it take to move from just proposing 20 minute neighbourhoods to really delivering them on the ground in Scotland?

What are 20 minute neighbourhoods and why do they matter? At its simplest a 20 minute neighbourhood is a place where people living there can access almost all of their daily needs – such as shopping, school, leisure and local services – within a 20 minute walk. That matters because being able to do so brings enormous benefits. Those benefits include physical and mental health, community sustainability and resilience, climate net zero targets and quality of life and well-being.

However it isn't simply a matter of everything being accessible within 20 minutes. To be successful, a 20 minute neighbourhood has to be perceived as having high value by those who live and work there. That means the services, the environment and the infrastructure have to be much more than simply present. They also have to be high quality, work well together, be sensibly joined up and collectively create a sense of a place that people want to be. Ultimately those who live and work in a 20 minute neighbourhood need to feel that it is a place where they attach high value to the quality of what they do, how they do it and where they do it.

This conference looks at what it really takes to achieve 20 minute neighbourhoods that work. It considers the key factors to be addressed across national and local government and the role of other agents and players. It discusses the central importance of community engagement and expression to enable genuinely new and sustainable approaches to place delivery to take root. It reflects on the challenge of ensuring 20 minute neighbourhoods are not thwarted by silo practices in how budgets, policy and decision making are controlled by various partners.

Describing 20 minute communities and their key components is one thing, delivering them is another. So do they really matter and why? What role do the various stakeholders have to play to support their development? Who and what needs to get out of the way, what kind of thinking and practice needs to be abandoned and what do those committed to place planning and 20 minute neighbourhoods need to do to foster their emergence? What are the policies that have to be understood and adopted, which are the processes to follow in taking next steps and how do we make delivery happen?

This conference examines the core challenges and opportunities presented by the evolution of policies on planning, place and 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland. It will focus on three broad themes:

  • The strategic planning and place policy context
  • Processes which support placemaking and 20 minute neighbourhoods
  • Moving from planning to delivery

Benefits of Attending

  • Discuss the strategic policy context
  • Reflect on planning as an effective strategic enabler
  • Consider NPF4, place and the 20 minute neighbourhood opportunity
  • Find out why 20 minute neighbourhoods matter and what we should be aiming for
  • Explore how it takes a village to make a village
  • Focus on planning for place
  • Gain insight on collaboration, place and purpose
  • Learn about 20 minute neighbourhood delivery: The Edinburgh approach
  • Assess re-thinking and re-making place and what matters in delivering regeneration
  • Get down to the detail of delivery


Donald Anderson

Director, Playfair Scotland

Petra Biberbach

Chief Executive, PAS

Sam Cassels

Place Principle Adviser, Scottish Government

Diarmaid Lawlor

Associate Director - Place, Scottish Futures Trust

Jenna Monteith

Senior Associate, Brodies LLP

Daisy Narayanan

Head of Placemaking and Mobility, City of Edinburgh Council

Stefanie O'Gorman

Director of Sustainable Economics, Ramboll Group

Graham Ross

Chief Executive, Austin-Smith:Lord

Dr Fiona Simpson

Chief Planner, The Scottish Government

Stefano Smith FRTPI

Director, Stefano Smith Planning

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Annual City of Edinburgh Council Conference 2016