Ellie Ames 08 March 2024

‘Toxic’ 15-minute city phrase cut from Oxford local plan

‘Toxic’ 15-minute city phrase cut from Oxford local plan image
Image: Andrei Nekrassov / Shutterstock.com

Oxford City Council has removed mention of ‘15-minute cities’ from its local plan, claiming the concept has become ‘too toxic and incendiary’, The Times has reported.

The decision follows protests against the planning concept and reports that officers and members had been subject to abuse over the proposed policy.

Last February, around 2,000 people attended protests in Oxford, organised by opponents of both low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) and traffic filters and attended by people campaigning against 15-minute neighbourhoods.

Highway authority Oxfordshire County Council has implemented LTNs, which were made permanent in October, and is preparing to trial six traffic filters in Oxford.

In 2022, the city and county councils issued a statement after staff and councillors were said to have been subject to abuse ‘due to inaccurate information, being circulated online, about traffic filters’.

They said: ‘The misinformation online has linked the traffic filters to the 15-minute neighbourhoods proposal in the city council’s Local Plan 2040, suggesting that the traffic filters will be used to confine people to their local area. This is not true.’

Cabinet member for planning Louise Upton has told The Times: ‘If we want to actually engage with people about what the real problems are and what the solutions are, we don’t need the phrase 15-minute cities anymore.’

However, she said the decision to drop the phrase from the local plan would make ‘no noticeable difference to our planning decisions’.

Oxford City Council confirmed the report was accurate and declined to comment further.

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