Drymen is a small community of approximately 800 people, situated within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Although only 27km (17 miles) from Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, the community are reliant on cars and vehicles to access basic everyday facilities and services.
The Scottish Government have adopted 20-minute neighbourhoods in National Planning Policy Framework 4 – but what does this mean for a rural community? How can 20-minute neighbourhoods be interpreted and adapted in a way that is valuable and feasible in rural areas?
Working with the community, Forth Environment Link an environmental charity based in the Forth Valley, facilitated the development of a community vision and route map for Drymen and the villages of east Loch Lomond. This vision will inform development proposals that come forward in the area, so that the villages are places where people can live well and live locally.
Who and where?
Forth Environment Link; Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Drymen and the villages of east Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Features and Principles highlighted
- a compelling vision, well communicated (Principle for success)
Drymen is a small community of approximately 800 people, situated within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Although only 27km (17 miles) from Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, the community are reliant on cars and vehicles to access basic everyday facilities. Equally, the area attracts high numbers of tourists who are travelling to and around the area reliant on private vehicles, adding to congestion, parking issues and pollution in the national park. Drymen is surrounded by other small villages experiencing the same challenges.
The communities in the area identified through a variety of engagement activities, including use of the Place Standard Tool (a free resource developed by the Scottish Government that provides a simple framework to structure conversations about place), surveys, pop up events and conversations, that despite a widespread desire amongst people to use private cars less, in response to the climate emergency, the lack of infrastructure for walking, cycling and wheeling, and the absence of reliable public transport make it very difficult to change behaviour.
The Scottish Government have adopted developing 20-minute neighbourhoods in policy in National Planning Policy Framework 4. Consultation with the communities in the area revealed that a strict adherence to a ’20-minute’ travel time was not useful or suitable for the rural nature of the area and rural living. Instead, the residents decided to focus on an adaptation of the 20-minute neighbourhood framework, and call this ‘living well locally’. This change in name reflects the same ambition of 20-minute neighbourhoods but better reflects the challenges and realities of living in rural Scotland.
The consultations identified a range of opportunities and challenges related to living well locally:
- movement – lack of walking and cycling routes; poor public transport; congestion and parking difficulties
- spaces – buildings and spaces that could be repurposed; access and quality of green space, play and recreation
- resources – range of and access to facilities and amenities; building the local economy; spaces to connect
- housing – need for affordable housing; future proofing; increasing variety of property types
- civic – retaining a sense of identity and belonging; feeling safe
The outcome of the consultations is a vision and list of priorities for how people can meet their needs locally in the villages where they live and in the surrounding area. The vision reads:
Drymen and the villages of east Loch Lomond are safe and connected places, where excellent pedestrian, cycling and public transport facilities allow people to move with ease through and between communities. There is a strong sense of identity, high quality natural and built spaces, and amenities that fulfil village needs. These are places that encourage and welcome visitors, offering good quality off-site parking and EV charging, public facilities, tourist information, excellent signage and local heritage trails along with access to popular walking routes.Drymen and the villages of East Loch Lomond: Living Well Locally
The vision and priorities include clear objectives and identify projects across the villages that would bring real change to the local area. These include infrastructure projects to create new active travel routes as well as actions such as introducing a regular community cinema and providing after school childcare opportunities.
- Compelling vision, well communicated (Principle for success)
Starting with the people has allowed the development of a bespoke rural version of 20-minute neighbourhoods for Drymen and the surrounding villages. The vision reflects the challenges and priorities of the local villages, whilst recognising that they also function within their wider rural context and need to respond to the impacts of local tourism.
The vision and priorities that have been developed from research and consultations, form a strong basis for the creation of further policy and actions, and can support funding bids and collaboration to bring the community’s vision of living well locally to life over the coming years.
For the vision set out by local communities to become a catalyst for change, collaboration across a variety of actors will be required. It is suggested that recruiting a living well locally coordinator could help increase capacity and maintain momentum whilst building relationships with stakeholders.
The vision and priorities also identify the need for:
- technical assessments on the walkability, transport network, land use and housing issues raised through the consultations
- detailed initiative and infrastructure opportunities to be identified across the area
- the development of place plans and broader collaborative implementation plans to deliver the changes the communities wish to see.
With thanks to Stuart Guzinski, Project Coordinator, Forth Environment Link; and Jemma Beedie, Project Officer, Forth Environment Link.
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