Building a new future for housing

June 29, 2021

The Scottish Government has voiced a strong desire for more 20-minute neighbourhoods. But what are they and what do they offer? Jonathan Graham, Development Surveyor at Hargreaves Land provides some insight.

People will always want to live as close possible to their place of work while simultaneously enjoying access to local services and infrastructure. It’s visceral, elemental and goes to the heart of the communities we aspire to build. It’s also something enshrined in the 20-minute neighbourhood, an approach that is gaining increasing traction among government and planning policy makers in Scotland.

There can be no question that well thought out residential neighbourhoods can be empowering places, where people feel safe, secure and, of course, very much at home. And this extends to the wider environment and infrastructure which surrounds and envelops us all – from the fundamental layout of streets and pavements to the provision of local facilities and transport links.

Where and how we choose to live our lives has a direct impact on our health and well-being, maybe never more so than in these challenging times with the restrictions we all face. Government recognises that creating well-thought out, vibrant and dynamic walkable neighbourhoods, that are connected through a mix of land-uses, housing types and access to quality public transport, will create more healthy, liveable communities.

Essentially, a 20-minute neighbourhood is a place designed and built specifically to allow residents to meet their daily requirements within a few minutes’ walk of their front doors. Indeed, the features of these neighbourhoods include safe pathways and cycle routes, first class door-step health facilities and services, local education provision, safe streets, parks and open spaces, affordable and diverse housing, and opportunities for employment.

Housebuilding is an emotive issue at the best of times, but in the desire to build the quantity and quality of new homes we so desperately need, it remains as important as ever to continually strive to improve, innovate and think beyond the traditional and conventional. So as developers, it’s natural to want to see the creation of safe, inclusive and imaginative neighbourhoods that will leave a long-lasting legacy and create a strong sense of community.

Hargreaves Land is committed to ensuring our flagship project at Blindwells reflects the best a 20-minute neighbourhood can offer. A new town for a new age; the scheme is delivering excellent retail, leisure and healthcare facilities with the benefit transport links to Edinburgh city centre. Indeed, such is the scope and ambition of Blindwells, that it is being hailed as one of the most forward thinking, ground-breaking and ambitious projects of its type in the UK.

It’s crystal clear that all involved in planning and development are thinking long and hard about legacy. Blindwells, and other forthcoming 20-minute neighbourhoods, with the many benefits and opportunities they offer, are sure to provide the canvas for a new narrative that will bring real and lasting change to Scotland.