New research supports ’20-minute neighbourhoods’

New research from Monash University is examining how to transform outer suburban Melbourne communities into socially engaged and resilient ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’. ­­­

According to the 20-Minute Neighbourhood- Living Locally Research Project, living within 20 minutes of social and community infrastructure could build communities that enhance social interaction and foster vibrant local economies.

“A 20-minute neighbourhood is a safe and accessible mixed-use area where key infrastructure is located within a 20-minute walk, cycle or transport trip, or within an 800 metre catchment zone,” the report reads.

Urban Planning and Design Professors Carl Grodach and Liton Kamruzzaman, along with Dr Laura Harper (Architecture) from the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, identified key lessons and challenges for building 20-minute cities in Australia.

Prof Grodach said the 20-minute neighbourhood concept may support local living by encouraging social interaction and local economies within a 20-minute walking distance.

“20-minute neighbourhoods can improve the quality of life for residents, who can live nearby public transport, shops, work and services,” he said.

“However, in low density residential suburban settings, it can be challenging to create walkable environments as homes are often physically disconnected from job centres, retail, and entertainment.”

Researchers identified key challenges and lessons to building 20-minute neighbourhoods by auditing community infrastructure in Mambourin, a master-planned community 45 kilometres south west of Melbourne’s central business district.

The project made the following key recommendations for building resilient neighbourhoods:

  • Build ‘Community Hubs’ which serve multiple purposes: flexible, multipurpose spaces that respond to community needs, ranging from libraries and health facilities to farmers’ markets and cafes.
  • Nurture local business through incubators/co-working spaces: communities should build collaborative work spaces that allow people to upskill and work alongside each other. This could include a common space, desk or room rental, equipment rental or sharing, skills training programs and bartering opportunities.
  • Integrate a mix of programs and services: this includes, for example, housing youth and aged care services in the same building, and maximises the use of resources and enabling easy adaptation to changing populations, conditions, and demand.
  • Enable access for different community members: community infrastructure should be accessible to community members from a range of ages, backgrounds, and abilities, close to transport and available at all times of day and night.
  • Design for the particular needs and character of the community: successful community infrastructure responds to the particular needs and character of the community, through consideration of personal identities, habits, and preferences (e.g. home-centred activity, intergenerational engagement, and cultural identity).


The study was prepared for Resilient Melbourne, an initiative by the City of Melbourne and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

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