Rob Walker in The Art of Noticing No.55 recently mentioned the 15 minute neighbourhood. The phrase was new to me but the concept has always been part of my ideal place to live – somewhere you can walk or travel by wheelchair to all the necessary shops and amenities. The interesting point is that it’s not the same for each person, so for me having a school five minutes away is an inconvenience rather than a necessity while the lack of a good restaurant is a downside of the location. (Although there are rumours this may be due to change.)
I’m lucky as I have a grocery, takeaways and a lovely coffee and cake shop in walking distance. I also have a lot of open space for walking which I have only learnt to fully appreciate this year, spending time exercising outside of the house. In the time of lockdown, it really makes you think about what is close to home and what requires a journey by car or public transport.
My dream 15 minute neighbourhood is Kemp Town, in Brighton. We stayed there for a week providing a cat sitting service for a friend and I fell in love with the area. A short walk from the house was an amazing bakery, a coffee shop we visited every evening after work, countless places to eat (always a plus point for me), butchers, antique shops, stationery shops and even a book shop. It felt like everything we needed was in easy reach. And as a bonus, the sea front was only five minute’s walk away.
Despite commuting to work each day this felt like a holiday. If it had happened this year, I would have been working from home every day and going out for lunch, instead we ate out in the evenings trying out every restaurant close by.
I hope as more people continue to work from home for at least part of the week, this will lead to more local shops, cafes and restaurants opening and making each neighbourhood the place where you want to spend your leisure time.
Where is your ideal 15 minute neighbourhood and what makes it perfect?