Monday 20 February 2023

Environment Monday - In Mill Hill, we already live in a fifteen minute city and it is great

The nutterati have a new bogie subject to rant about. It is the concept of 15 minute cities. One of our favourite local loonies has been ranting about it for a couple of weeks. Rather amusingly, he doesn't seem to realise that in Mill Hill, we already live in a fifteen minute City. Wikipedia defines a fifteen minute city as "The 15-minute city is an urban concept in which most daily necessities and services, such as work, shopping, education, healthcare, and leisure, should be located within an easily reachable 15-minute walk or bike ride from any point in the city."

So how does Mill Hill compare? 

Work - I walk to work every day. My studios are 10 minutes walk from my house. I'd estimate that probably 30% of the people I know these days work locally, or work from home. As Mill Hill is a suburb of London, many work in Central London. They commute on Thameslink, which is an electric mass transport system. Although not astrictly speaking part of the 15 minute City concept, I worked in Central London for many years and with Thameslink was never more than a train ride and a 15 minute walk from work. I think that non polluting mass transport systems should be included as part of the definition.

Shopping - We do 90% of our shopping in Mill Hill. With M&S, Iceland and Tesco's, it is well served. We also have a great butcher in Boucherie Gerard and a brilliant wine shop with Mill Hill Wines. 

Sadly, the cheese shop that Matthew Offord promised Mill Hill when he was elected in 2010 has never materialised, which would be a real bonus.

Education - There are some great schools in Mill Hill. My kiods went to St Vincents, which is about 20 minutes walk, but as we have dogs, that was always part of their walkies. It is a beautiful walk. We also have Mill Hill County High as a secondary school. Sadly, my eldest didn't get in as we were 0.98 of a mile from the school, and the limit was 0.75 when she wanted to go, so had to get a bus to Finchley. My middle daughter made it in.

Healthcare -  I belong to Millway Surgery, which is just down the road and most people I are signed up to the practice, which has grown massively since it was based across the road from me in Millway. There is also a dentist on Millway and an oseopath. When I go for specialist cancer treatment, it is at UCH, which is a short journey away on Thameslink. World class centres of excellence are not part of the concept.

Leisure - Mill Hill is well served with restaurants (last August I listed 38 on the Broadway and that doesn't include our El Vaquerra or excellent local chippy, the King Neptune at The Green Man) , parks, and a few decent drinking establishments. We have a biannual music festival and Pubs such as the Adam and Eve have regular music and comedy. I'd love to see a boutique cinema. We also have Powerleague football pitches and Saracens which are at the limit of a quick 15 minute stroll.

Sadly, many of the newer development sites in Barnet are not so well designed and well sited. At the far end of the Inglis Barracks development, there is far less within easy access. I believe Barnet Council is failing miserably to plan proper infrastructure around new developments. If you look at the Watling Estate, build between the wars, when town planning was taken seriously. Tube lines were built, shopping parades, surgeries, dental practices, libraries, churches etc. It is beyond my comprehension why people are ranting about good planning and good civic design. There is a very misinformed campaign to terrify people into beleiving that you won't be allowed out if you live in a fifteen minute city. For some reason, it seems that some people simply can't understand the concept that if you have good services within walking distance, you might just use your car a bit less. The reason I've stayed in Mill Hill is because I'm living the fifteen minute dream already!


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