Canterbury Council is one of the latest councils in Britain to announce radical new development plans with a focus on 15-minute cities. Within the draft plan there is a controversial plan called ‘The Canterbury Circulation Plan’ which proposes to divide the city in five zones and apply some restrictions to the use of private vehicles.
Private use vehicles under the new proposal would be able to travel freely within their zone. However, when travelling to other zones they would need to take a new bypass which is yet to be constructed. The radical new proposals are intended ease congestion in the city, reduce pollution, improve air quality and make the city centre better for pedestrians and cyclists.
Since agreeing to public consultation on the draft plan which ended on 16 January 2023 the council has have received high levels of complaints and criticism both in person and online. Critics to the proposals have pointed to flaws in the plan saying that Canterbury is completely unsuitable for the proposed plans to work. The backlash has been fierce with critics saying the plans are ‘authoritarian and anti-democratic’, will add traffic and are Like post war Berlin without the wall. Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Nick Eden-Green blasted the proposal as “bonkers!” because the plans propose ideas similar to the Belgian city of Ghent which Mr Eden-Green argues isn’t comparable to Canterbury given its size and layout.
There is a growing trend in the UK within urban development towards concepts like sustainable development and 15 minute cities. These ideas have also taken route across the Western world with European cities and now cities in North America beginning to implement these development ideas.
The basic concept of a 15 minute city is that within your local area the citizen should have “all necessary amenities within a short walk, bike ride, or public transit trip from one’s home”. Advocates of 15 minute cities claim they will help reduce pollution and that they offer residents clean and safe environments in which to live, socialise and work.
Across the UK local councils are bringing in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in order to reduce pollution and pedestrianize areas of towns and cities. In the UK, common methods used in the construction of LTNs are large wooden planters, bollards and modal filters often coupled with the use of traffic restrictive methods like one-way systems, no turns and reduced speed limits. LTNs are where smaller access roads are blocked off from traffic, reducing route options for motorists, but pedestrianizing the areas instead.
The concept of 15 minute cities is being trialled in Oxford, where the Oxfordshire County Council are set to start trialling controversial Traffic Filters in 2024. In Bath and Bristol the councils are experimenting with the idea of Liveable Neighbourhoods and in parts of Scotland they intend to introduce 20 minute cities to help them achieve net zero ambitions.
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