The Dwindling Hope Of The 15-Minute Neighbourhood And The Perseverance Of Greenfield Housing

Last December I wrote about the 15 minute neighbourhood. About how if you were now working from home indefinitely, everything you needed for a productive and normal life should be within a 15 minute walk from your home. I talked about how it would be great if every town had a business hub/co-working space where we could all go and work for a day or two a week to get out from within the stifling four walls of home and ‘socialise’ with our business people. But that requires infrastructure, time and money and someone who wants to do it. Certainly in Denton, it’s not happening, although neighbouring town Stalybridge has done exactly that.

Greenfield housing however, takes none of this into account, and as new Government rules and attempts to cut our carbon omissions pushes more and more of us away from our cars, so the ‘carpark to carpark’ housing estates that have come into play become more and more isolated with no facilities to make day to life possible.

Of course, you can see what’s going to happen here. And, in fact, it is what is happening already to many people. You simply can’t get around. Areas like the suburban village estate where I grew up were pioneering for the late 1960s. They were designed as a green leafy family orientated commuter belt with everything you needed within walking distance including an ‘all you need’ shopping centre (which has fallen into rack and ruin) and is now a no go zone at night.

Houses designed for one or two cars, now have 3, 4 or even more. The estate is one giant car park, side roads lined from end to end and double parked evenings and weekends, and there is no central hub in the village anymore. The medical services it still has service enormous areas as other services are shut down in neighbouring towns and villages, so it’s now impossible to get a doctor’s appointment within several months, or a dental appointment within three, and some of these are now private practices only.

The bus services have almost completely gone, nibbled away over many years, with the nearest station a 20-minute drive away. A day return to London will cost you £25 and driving into London will now cost you £27.50 thanks to the ULEZ, LEZ and Congestion Charge. Soon, that boundary is set to be expanded so that the entire area inside the M25 is going to become chargeable, meaning that even if you don’t want to go into London, you will still be charged to overstep the boundary. Pay per mile is also on the horizon. Who would live anywhere near London now? It is simply unfeasible.

So here, everyone drives out of the village (more of a town these days since expansion) to do anything practical. It doesn’t function as a community any more. It’s a place to sleep and eat, but not to work, or play and that is a problem with so many of these greenfield sites which weren’t ever designed with community in mind. As far as cars are concerned, there is no infrastructure, no space and no facility to put in electric car charging points for those that can even afford an electric car in the first place.

You know where this is going right?

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