Neighbourhoods, communities, 15-minute cities

The more we investigate the past, the more we will learn about the future. As far back as prehistoric hunter gatherers the tribe size was key in the stability and longevity of the community.

15-minute cities is a concept pioneered in a number of cities including Paris, where neighbourhoods of around 1 mile (15 minutes’ walk) have been created. In this city of neighbourhoods, the residents can find everything they need in terms of work, retail, and leisure.

It is said that London is a city of villages each with a different history, culture, and “vibe”. Walking through London this is very apparent. This diversity helps make London the third most visited city in the world (Bangkok is first, Paris is second).

Remote working

Covid has forced business to rethink how they employ staff, I know one company that categorises their employees as “free-range” or “caged”. Free-rangers are trusted, motivated and perform well while remote working. Caged require support, inspiration and monitoring to deliver, this is best done in an office space.

Artificial intelligence that can track customer sentiment during a phone call and innovations such as ChatGPT are challenging convention, but it is hard to replicate the office where knowledge, ideas and skills can stimulate innovation and creativity.

In the 15-minute city offices are an integral part of the neighbourhood, maybe using shared resources with high speed connectivity. These co-working hubs encourage collaboration and generate innovation and creativity.


Working in Asia, I have noted how commodities are shipped in bulk for further processing in communities and for use within that community. This adding of value is scaled according to the size of the market, and the diversity of products that can be made. In doing so they are stringent in avoiding waste and making best use of any materials or resource.

Waste becoming a resource

Personally I see these neighbourhoods as being fundamental to changing the way that societies buy and distribute household goods and supplies. They will be disruptive in the same way that 70 years ago retail counter service was replaced by retail self-service. Direct to Customer and “final mile” concepts will evolve. So will a consistent approach to how we design and use packaging.

Waste management must be designed out of our systems, so the consumer can easily make the best choice on disposal of any waste. Waste must become a resource not a legacy.

I believe that composting and the benefits to the soils within communities will be part of this new world, and those of you who know Westaways will understand this.