‘World Town Planning Day’ – an opportunity to create a 15-minute city


Author: Philip Jackson, STW Urban Design Leadership Team

As we transition into a post-pandemic world the importance of good town planning has never been more important and it is now widely recognised as essential to how we live sustainably – particularly if we are to meet our environmental targets on our pathway to Net Zero by 2050.

The 15-minute city concept is an urban model conceived by Professor Carlos Moreno and scientists from Chaire ETI at the Sorbonne Business School. It is an integrated approach bringing together mobility, housing, economic development, education, and culture and ensuring that daily needs are close at hand in every neighbourhood – within a 15-minute journey. This concept has been adopted by several cities around the world as a blueprint for post-pandemic recovery.

According to UN-Habitat, the 15-minute city has sparked a global movement to tackle the planning issues highlighted during COVID-19 pandemic, car dominance, climate change, and urban inequality by reintroducing the qualities of proximity within urban planning, by creating walkable, mixed-use, and compact neighbourhoods, and integrating green infrastructure. The benefits to this concept are wide-ranging, helping improve health, equity, and climate change adaptation in the communities in which it is implemented.

Since 2020, Paris has pioneered the adoption of the 15-minute city concept, which also has roots in other recent urban planning designs like Barcelona’s superblocks. Portland in the U.S. has been planning for 20-minute neighbourhoods since as early as 2008, while Australian cities benchmark their degree of connectivity under the rubric of 30-minute cities.

The new Draft Dublin City Development Plan 2022-2028 refers to the 15-minute city as a principle. While it talks the talk, does it walk the walk? Can our town planning system that traditionally prescribes land use, effectively deliver this approach, or is a more radical overhaul needed?

One of the essential ingredients for achieving the 15-minute city principle is community participation and engagement during the planning process – particularly at the local level. If Dublin is to achieve its aspiration of including the 15-minute city in how the city is developed moving forward, then it is important that community groups are engaged and consulted when preparing Local Area Plans across the city.

Direct engagement with the community can be a major factor in gaining consensus and support for the planning process, facilitating projects and initiatives for accomplishing a sustainable future in our cities. This will go along way in supporting Ireland achieve its environmental targets on the pathway to Net Zero.

Specific enquiries to our Urban Design Leadership Team: David Flannery and Philip Jackson



Philip Jackson
Philip leads our urban design and master-planning team. He is a member of the Academy of Urbanism.

David Flannery
David Flannery is our Sport & Hospitality Architecture Lead and is based in our Cork studio. He is also engaged with urban design and master-planning projects across the wider practice.

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