In December 2021, Chorlton Traders submitted a successful bid to the Manchester School of Architecture’s MSA Live project. We wanted to explore the idea of the 15 Minute Neighbourhood.
The pandemic has started a frenzy of reviews on how we use neighbourhoods, accelerating changes already happening in society. Are 15-minute Neighbourhoods the solution, and should the Chorlton become one? What makes a strong community and how can we design the urban space to support one? Will this help businesses to thrive? There is evidence that locating services close together and enhancing the public realm improves health and well-being, and increases the sense of social cohesion.
You should consider the development needs of Chorlton, and determine whether the 15-Minute Neighbourhood model should be applied to fulfill these needs. From a business perspective: will it help us to prosper, and turn Chorlton into a destination place? If so, then produce a viable, comprehensive implementation framework covering infrastructure development and place management, and tackling the various hurdles which will arise: funding, politics, resources, public acceptance.
Chorlton District Centre has been the subject of numerous plans and reports over the past few years and these have never been implemented. Chorlton is bursting with community-based groups keen to maintain and improve the place. You will build on their work, and augment this with all the things we have not yet covered.
There are also several large projects on the horizon: Coop Funeralcare (the Picture House); Chorlton Precinct and former Baths sites redevelopments; Ryebank Fields, and the Cycleway. How can you utilise these to support your vision?
Ultimately the quality of our immediate living environment, our accommodation, the state of the street outside, the availability of services, will have the largest effect on our well-being and life satisfaction.
Many traders are local, so the economic viability of Chorlton is crucial across their whole lives. The 15-minute Neighbourhood may provide a stronger sense of community, support and enable increasing diversity, health and well-being, so that someone could have all their life needs met within the Chorlton boundaries. The district will support and promote potentially changing work patterns, for example ‘working from home’ .
Reducing the need for travel to social and work activities gives communities more useable time, and reduces the physical stress in the daily commute or the school run. Walking is better for health and well-being, and will help build social links due to increased chance interactions, not possible when in a car or bus. Increasing familiarity with neighbours will break down barriers, build mutual understanding and therefore increase social cohesion.
Creating an economically viable district with high footfall will create more employment opportunities. If people are spending more time within the area, then they are also spending more money there, and so more wealth is kept within the area, rather than being syphoned off out of the area. Therefore there is the opportunity to reduce economic and social inequalities.