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Oxford, Bristol and Sheffield embrace 15-minute city: Is the concept a boon or a curse? 

Royal Approval: Queen Mother Square in the King's Pet Building Project, Poundbury, Dorset, which is built along City lines in 15 minutes

Have you ever found yourself behind the wheel, seething with anger when new terminals prevented you from using a shortcut?

Or swerve to stay clear of a rarely used bike path? If so, chances are you might be experiencing the latest concept in urban planning: the city in 15 minutes.

This program, developed by the Franco-Colombian scientist Carlos Moreno, proposes that people can find all the amenities they need – shops, health care, schools, leisure – within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their home.

It aims to remove the need for people to travel to city centers (and even when they do, it’s likely only to be on public transport), thereby reducing car use and benefiting the environment.

Roads run by rats will be blocked off so that people can form community-minded urban villages.

Royal Approval: Queen Mother Square in the King's Pet Building Project, Poundbury, Dorset, which is built along City lines in 15 minutes

Royal Approval: Queen Mother Square in the King’s Pet Building Project, Poundbury, Dorset, which is built along City lines in 15 minutes

The idea is gaining ground. Oxford, Bristol, Canterbury and Sheffield councils have all come up with plans to introduce elements of the 15-Minute City, while Bath is also paying homage.

King Charles’ pet building project, Poundbury in Dorset, is being built along 15-minute town lines, with businesses and residential properties side by side.

15 Minute Town has its detractors. Some argue that pressuring people to stay in their own neighborhood is an outrageous attack on their personal freedom.

They further argue that it will have a disastrous effect on city centres, creating more empty stores.

Nick Fletcher, Conservative MP for Don Valley, speaking in the House of Commons, described it as an “international socialist concept” and called for a debate.

Planners and architects disagree. “The goal is not to seal communities,” says Jorge Beroiz, director of award-winning architecture firm CRTK.

“If carefully designed within the existing environment, the 15-minute city becomes a matter of choice – to buy necessities like a pint of milk or to meet your friends for a drink – without having to go upstairs in your car.”

Here are three cities planning to make the 15-minute city a reality.

Oxford debate

Plans for 15-minute zones in the city of dream spiers sent residents into a frenzy last month.

Up to 2,000 clashed with police, furious over Local Plan 2040 which will see traffic filters installed on six roads, allowing drivers to roam freely within their own neighborhoods but face fines of up to £70 £ if they pass through the filters.

Oxford has some of the most expensive homes in the country. North Oxford and Summertown are notoriously expensive, and in Jericho, much like Hampstead in North London, seemingly modest terraced houses often sell for upwards of £2million.

“You get more property for your money in the Lye Valley area, where 1930s semis come with large gardens,” says Jonathan Gregory of Humberts Estate Agents. “With a nature reserve and a golf course nearby, it’s a good place for families.”

Join a bath center

During the pandemic, many Bath residents have become accustomed to working from home, shopping and socializing at local “hubs”.

The council has developed this trend into its version of the 15 Minute City, with the aim of being carbon neutral by 2030. It’s an ambitious demand as the amount of traffic in the city has doubled since 1990.

Bath, with its galleries, historic pubs and cafes, has an irresistible charm. Home prices are skyrocketing – fueled in part by Airbnb investors. A three-bedroom apartment in one of the great houses in the Landsdown area will set you back at least £2million.

Bear Flat is popular, being close to shopping and a park. An Edwardian three-bed terraced house sold there for £942,000 before Christmas. The average price of a property last year was £634,000, up 17% from the year before.

Liberate Canterbury

Although it is impressive, with beautiful Georgian houses, a limestone cathedral and medieval streets, Canterbury often feels packed with traffic to the bursting point.

To counter this, the council proposes dividing the city into five zones, imposing fines on motorists who cross them.

If you wish to travel through the city, you will need to drive to its perimeter and on the ring road is offered before re-entering.

It infuriated many, including former Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, who told Kent Online: ‘It paints a grim picture of a dystopian future of people constantly under mass surveillance.’

The most sought-after houses are inside the city walls. St Dunstan has a bohemian atmosphere and is close to the High Speed ​​1 service from Canterbury West station.

Properties in the city sold for a relatively modest average of £347,000 last year.

So, will 15 Minute Town make Canterbury even more attractive and drive up property prices? The jury is still out.

On the market… and in the center

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