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The 20-minute neighbourhood is an outcome that the Victoria State Government aims to deliver in its 35-year Melbourne plan, aiming to encourage residents to live more locally by “giving people the ability to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute walk from home” [1]. In other words, people should be able to access essential facilities and services within an 800-metre walk from home to a destination and back again – 10 minutes to the amenity and 10 minutes back [1]. The scheme is intended to create a “more cohesive and inclusive community with a vibrant local economy” as well as prevent social exclusion and promote a sense of place [2].

Features of a 20-minute neighbourhood (Source: Victoria State Government)

Living in Jesmond during my undergraduate degree made me appreciate the ‘village-like’ feel of the area, and how easily accessible all of my daily needs were, whether it be essential or a luxury. Whilst the 20-minute neighbourhood strategy was pioneered in Australia, it appears that such principles are present in areas closer to home, here in Newcastle.

Although my walk to university was slightly outside the designated 400-metre radius, there are still local schools and learning opportunities in the area – West Jesmond Primary School, Newcastle High School for Girls and the Friends of Jesmond Library.

Schools and learning facilities within the catchment (Source: Author’s own)

Within the 800-metre walkable catchment, there is also adequate provision of green space, playgrounds, parks and sports facilities. The neighbourhood benefits from public parks such as the Town Moor, Exhibition Gardens and Jesmond Dene, as well as sports and leisure facilities such as Newcastle Cricket Club, Jesmond Tennis Club and Jesmond Swimming Pool.

Green spaces and leisure & sports facilities in the neighbourhood (Source: Author’s own)

Although Jesmond is heavily populated by students, there is still diversity in housing provision. Housing typologies include flats, terraced, semi-detached and detached [3], whilst tenure ranges from student rental, private ownership and social housing.

One of the things I loved most about living in Jesmond was its walkability – every road within the catchment area is accompanied by pavements, cycle lanes and a slow vehicular speed limit. Some areas also have cycle and pedestrian pathways as wide as the road. The area is also serviced by two metro stops – Jesmond and West Jesmond – connecting the neighbourhood to the coast, airport and city centre.

Pedestrian and cyclist paths on Eslington Terrace (Source: Google Maps)

A variety of shops are accessible within the catchment area, ranging from Tesco and Waitrose to homeware boutiques, as well as local health facilities such as clinics. These provide local employment opportunities, as do the number of restaurants, bars and pubs within the catchment – particularly along Osborne Road.

Shops and services on Acorn Road (Source: Google Maps)

Although the 20-minute neighbourhood is not a designated strategy within our local plans, it is clear that they still exist, and could be closer than you think!


[1] Victoria State Government (n.d.) 20-minute neighbourhoods, Available at: [Accessed on 08/04/20].

[2] Victoria State Government (2016) Plan Melbourne: 2017-2050, State Government of Victoria.

[3] Zoopla (2020) Browse House prices in Jesmond, Available at: [Accessed on 08/04/20].

2 responses to “Jesmond, Newcastle – a 20-minute neighbourhood?”

  1. Thank Karina for sharing this.
    I think the idea of a 20-minute neighbourhood is very practicable and it should apply to every city. I used to live in cities where facilities are not within walking distance from communities or the urban infrastructures are not supported to walk or cycling. I would say that it is challenging to live; people need to have their car or motorcycle to access facilities.

    It would be good that a small town or micro neighborhood has a service radius of 15-20 minutes linked by foot, bike or public transport. There are utilities for living, eating, studying, working, and relaxing for everyone in the area, including self-reliance in energy and waste management developed in parallel with sustainable transportation. There is a green area every 400-800 meters, it would be a healthy area and to create an environmental balance. Using technology and information to manage and facilitate life, and most importantly, people in the neighborhood can communicate and participate in management.

    With the compact and small area, it will help reduce dependence on external resources in both regular and crisis times. It created the flexibility to manage resources that large cities cannot have because large cities have more complicated structures. In addition, the micro neighborhood also helps to create social relationships in the neighborhood as a shield to help protect society in times of crisis. This concept encourages people to walk, and walking also can boost the economy, since it increases the potential of interaction between people and street frontage.

    Currently, the concept of a 15-20 minute neighbourhood is being implemented in many cities around the world, such as Ottawa in Canada, Melbourne in Australia and Paris, France, etc. Therefore this is a good signal that the quality of life in more cities is going to be better.


    Shrikant, A., 2018. Why Walkable Cities Are Good For The Economy, According To A City Planner. [online] Vox. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 May 2020].

    Principles for Inner City Neighborhood Design. (n.d). [pdf] Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2020].

    Snip, I., 2016. The Economic Benefits Of A Walkable City. [online] Forbes Georgia. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 May 2020].

  2. Thanks for sharing Karina!

    Having lived in both South Melbourne and Jesmond – I must agree that even with the contrasting scales, I never owned a car or regularly took public transport in either, I walked everywhere! In Melbourne, I had a supermarket, pharmacy, workplace, restaurants, botanical garden, gym and plenty of coffee shops all within a 10-minute walk from my apartment which was 1.6km South of the city centre.

    I think it is also important to factor in that in order to retrofit our neighbourhoods to have all facilities within 800m [1], this is still a reasonably small amount of exercise, and we could potentially encourage people to walk further without realising. An area with street furniture, active frontages and ground floor windows would encourage the walker to continue [2]. There are various theories such as genius loci [3] which would opt to emphasise a unique characteristic of the site such as artwork, local nature and graffiti or biophilic design [4] which would encourage the active interaction with nature along trails in order to keep the walker stimulated.

    Brisk walking for 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, reduce excess body fat and strengthen muscles [5]. If this is the only form of exercise an individual can fit into their busy working life, then we can use these amenities as focal points, create more interesting routes and encourage people to not only enjoy their walk to the shops but also extend it.


    [1] Planning for Melbourne. 2020. 20-Minute Neighbourhoods. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 April 2020].
    [2] Cushing, D. and Miller, E., 2020. Creating Great Places: Evidence-Based Urban Design For Health And Wellbeing. New York: Routledge, pp.109-110.
    [3] McHarg, I., 1992. Design With Nature. New York: John Wiley & Sons, pp.175-186.
    [4] Amat, R., Ismail, S., Wahab, M., Ahmad, N. and Rani, W., 2020. A Dimension of Biophilia in Urban Design. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, [online] 409, pp.2-4. Available at: <> [Accessed 9 April 2020].
    [5] n.d. Walking For Good Health. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 April 2020].

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