Consultation Digest (National) Issue 16, 23 June 2023: Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods.

Summer is here and this is the first GoBike National Consultation Digest for some months – due to both illness, on my part, and a lack of relevant Government consultations to point your way through the spring. But as holidays and Parliamentary recess draws near there is a flurry of important documents to look at and respond to.

One of the reasons for the lack of government consultation may be due to the upheaval in Government from the change in First Minister and also the double change in Transport Minister. Sadly, Kevin Stewart resigned due to ill health and we wish him well with his recovery. Fiona Hyslop was very recently appointed as Transport Minister.

Government published a ‘policy prospectus’ in April outlining it’s new priorities including a section on Net Zero and Just Transition which includes statements on active travel and transport.

This time we delve into guidance on local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods. I hope you find it helpful.

Section 1: Current Consultations

(in date order for responses)

1.1: Scottish Government – Local living and 20 minute neighbourhoods – planning guidance

The Scottish Government is seeking views on draft guidance for local authorities on local living and developing plans for 20 minute neighbourhoods (20MN). 20MNs was a key theme within the 4th National Planning Framework but until now details were sketchy regarding how government expected councils to roll these out.

This draft guidance sets out more of the thinking behind 20MNs, the overall local living theme and the process that government wants councils to take in communities to understand the context, collaborate with communities, plan, design, implement and review.

The guidance is on the whole useful and the local living diagram on p19 helpfully shows the multiple elements which must be addressed in developing a 20MN (see Fig 1, below).

Previously I felt that government messaging on 20MN focused too heavily on planning and the need for councils to ensure local services are brought closer to people. Our concerns at Cycling UK was that not enough emphasis was on the need to improve local roads and create safe active travel infrastructure so that people could access those services by cycling, walking or wheeling.

The guidance does at least now show that how people move through the 20MN and the type of public space within the 20MN all need attention from the start.

If you are to write a response I suggest commenting on the following:

  • Question 3 – In the Movement section key considerations to add in the ‘moving around’ section include – junctions, secure cycle storage on residential streets (bike hangars), public bike share schemes, joined-up cycle networks, speed restrictions e.g. 20mph zones, school streets and play streets.
  • Question 4 – The structured approach is a positive inclusion in the guidance, however in understanding the context more guidance is needed on helping councils, stakeholders and members of the community to envision a positive future rather than dwell on solving current problems. For example, the transformation to 20MNs will take many years and therefore decisionmakers and members of the community should be guided to understand that the context in the future will be different to now and the plans need to match with that future reality rather than the current norms.
  • Question 5 – The same need to ‘sell a vision of the future’ is especially important in the collection of qualitative data and therefore the guidance should provide more detail on how to facilitate discussions around a vision of the future rather than just slight improvements to current norms.
  • Question 6 – The guidance needs more detail in some places. In planning and designing 20MNs the guidance needs to point to all the relevant guidance and how it must be followed, for example Cycling By Design.
  • Question 8 – The case studies are helpful but it should be noted that these are early examples and the scope what can be achieved in 20MNs will grow as the concept becomes embedded in planning and the way councils work. The Stewarton case study highlights the challenge of retrofitting into existing communities and this includes, in many places, fitting safe cycling infrastructure into existing road networks. The Drymen case study helpfully shows that councils should treat ’20 minutes as a guide time rather than an absolute’.

This final point raised in the Drymen case study gets to the heart of the issue with 20MN in Scotland. Local living and developing 20MNs should be a process rather than an end point. Councils must make every effort to enable to live active lifestyles and live locally now rather than in ‘x’ years to come when every element of the guidance has been met.

The point of 20MNs must be to enable and facilitate local living. We want people in communities feel encouraged and enabled by the process to transform their way of living and travelling as soon as possible and for their lifestyles to improve as the efforts to develop local 20MNs grow too. However, this may take some flexibility in the interpretation and application of the 20MN concept and guidance. The 20min round trip concept is applicable to walking but many people who can ride a bike will be able to travel much further in a 20 minute round trip and have a larger/wider area within their idea of what is local and accessible by active transport.

Being flexible in the application of the concept would allow councils and people in communities to feel that local living is possible in the short term rather than thinking it will take a long time to be realised.

Closes 20 July 2023

1.2: Transport Scotland – Scotland’s Pavement Parking Prohibitions – Consultation on Enforcement Regulations for Local Authorities

Pavement parking is a scourge on our streets and is hazard and frustration for pedestrians and disabled people using pavements. But it’s also dangerous for anyone cycling as often this selfish activity narrows the space on the road or places an obstacle to negotiate. And don’t get me started on parking across a cycle lane!!

This consultation asks for opinions on fines and the technicalities of how enforcement will work.

Closes 28 July 2023

1.3: Scottish Government – Just Transition Discussion Papers

Just Transition for Transport

Just Transition for the Built Environment

The Scottish Government has published three sectoral discussion papers about how to deliver a just transition to a more sustainable future.

The Transport paper will clearly be important to respond to but I also recommend looking at the Built Environment document and provide opinions on how we create safe space in the places where we live and work for getting about sustainably.

There’s no deadline for responses and instructions to reply via an email address. I will try to provide a guide to responses in a forthcoming digest.

No deadline set

Section 2: Forthcoming Consultations


Section 3: Consultation Feedback