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20-minute neighbourhoods pilot program

20-minute neighbourhoods pilot program
The Pilot Program

In January 2018 the Minister for Planning launched the 20-Minute Neighbourhood Pilot Program (the program).

The program is being delivered in two project stages:

  • Stage One (2018) - Established Neighbourhoods
  • Stage Two (2019) - Greenfield Neighbourhoods

The purpose is to test and evaluate the practical delivery of 20-minute neighbourhoods as part of whole-of-government pilots.

The program is being delivered by DELWP in partnership with Moonee Valley, Brimbank and Maroondah City Councils, Victoria Walks, the Heart Foundation (Victoria) for stage one and Wyndham City and Mitchell Shire Councils, Resilient Melbourne, the private sector and communities, for stage two.

The Department of Transport (DoT), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) have also supported the pilot projects.

What are 20-minute neighbourhoods?

The 20-minute neighbourhood is all about ‘living locally’—giving people the ability to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute walk from home, with safe cycling and local transport options.

A 20-minute neighbourhood is a well-designed place with a mix of land-uses and housing types with public transport. It offers connected places where people can live, spend their free time and access local services. It provides social hubs where connections to neighbours and communities can develop. These are places where people want to be, where people have the opportunity and choice to live locally.

Liveable communities should have access to the following features:

Features of a 20-minute neighbourhood

Research undertaken by the Heart Foundation (Victoria) for the Victorian Government identifies hallmarks of a 20-minute neighbourhood. A 20-minute neighbourhood must:

  • be safe, accessible and well connected for pedestrians and cyclists to optimise active transport
  • offer high-quality public realm and open spaces
  • provide services and destinations that support local living
  • facilitate access to quality public transport that connects people to jobs and higher-order services
  • deliver housing/population at densities that make local services and transport viable
  • facilitate thriving local economies
Walkable 20-minute neighbourhoods

Melbourne's transport system needs to accommodate 10.4 million additional trips by 2050.1

Building pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods will help create a sustainable transport system by enabling short trips to be made walking.

If 50% of short private vehicle trips were instead made walking, it would save the Victorian economy approximately $165 million a year in congestion, health, infrastructure and environmental costs.2

Research shows that 20-minutes is the maximum time considered reasonable for pedestrians to travel to meet most of their everyday needs. This represents a pedestrian catchment of 800m.3

800m is the measure of a 20-minute neighbourhood.

Plan Melbourne establishes clear direction to create an integrated local transport system that prioritises pedestrian movement in neighbourhoods. While cycling and local public transport provides people with active travel options, these modes do not extend neighbourhoods beyond pedestrian catchments of 800m. Pedestrian infrastructure, connections and streetscape design should be considered during the local planning process with priority given to pedestrians in neighbourhoods, particularly in activity centres.

Benefit of community participation in planning

Plan Melbourne establishes actions to ensure Melbourne is a distinctive and liveable city with quality design and amenity. DELWP is the lead agencies for delivering Action 52: Community Participation in Planning. Building community partnerships is critical to the principle of living locally 20-minute neighbourhoods.

Action 52 seeks to create resilient communities by increasing community participation early in the planning and development of urban renewal precincts.
Community participation and engagement can strengthen community resilience, increase knowledge and understanding of change, and empower local groups to be part of shaping the communities' future.

Stage 2 - Greenfield neighbourhoods

Research projects in Mambourin and Beveridge North West are being led by Resilient Melbourne. The multi-disciplinary project will test the principle of living locally 20-minute neighbourhoods in and showcase the benefits of community decision-making for greenfield developments.

The projects are delivering an:

  • Academic Literature Review of liveability outcomes in greenfield areas, based on the hallmarks.
  • Pedestrian Report assessing the pedestrian infrastructure in Beveridge North West.
  • Social Infrastructure Report recommending stages for delivery of facilities and services in Mambourin.
  • Analysing the local economic benefit of placemaking and delivering mixed-use 20-minute neighbourhoods.
  • Analysing the impact of the current retail model in greenfield areas on communities.

The projects commenced in January 2019 and findings from the research projects will likely be available in September 2019.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development established the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for all 193-member states.

Encouraging community participation in the planning process and creating a city of 20-minute neighbourhoods align with the following Sustainable Development Goals:


Source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2015

Online Resources

The following resources provide more information to help urban designers, planners, engineers and other place-making professionals who are seeking to create a city of 20-minute neighbourhoods.

The Heart Foundation Healthy Active by Design guidelines provides tools and case studies to support the development of healthy neighbourhoods that promote walking, cycling and active public life. The Heart Foundation seeks to improve the build environment to support people to be healthy and more active in places they live, study, work and play. The resources are updated by collaborators at the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities.

Victoria Walks has an online information toolkit that professionals can use to promote walking and enable more walkable environments. In November 2018, Victoria Walks released the Economic Case for Investment in Walking in collaboration with ARUP.

Resilient Melbourne has resources and case-study projects on the benefit of participatory design and how to create cohesive communities

  1. Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity 2016.
  2. Badawi, Y, Maclean, F, and Mason, B, (2018). The economic case for investment in walking, Victoria Walks, Melbourne.
  3. Victoria in Future 2016.
  4. Gunn LD, King TL, Mavoa S, Lamb K, Giles-Corti B, Kavanagh A. Identifying destination distances that support walking trips in local neighborhoods. J Trans Health 2017.
  5. Gunn, L, Mavoa, S, Boulangé, C, Hooper, P, Kavanagh, A, Giles-Corti, B Designing healthy communities: creating evidence on metrics for built environment features associated with walkable neighbourhood activity centres. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity, 2017, 14:164.