National charity Living Streets is calling for Government to give communities the power to safeguard essential shops and services, including libraries, within walking distance in order to bring their streets back to life and to ensure that people don’t feel isolated in their own communities.
Research has shown that many people, including some of the most vulnerable struggle to access shops and services on foot, leading to isolation, lack of exercise and neighbourhood decline. The online research by YouGov, on behalf of Living Streets, has highlighted in stark detail the impact that this can have on individuals. More than a quarter (28%) of all British residents feel isolated, or have a friend or loved one who does, because of difficulty accessing basic amenities such as libraries, schools, shops selling fresh food, post offices, banks, GPs and community pubs on foot.
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Living Streets, said:
“Our local shops and services should be the centre of our communities: bustling, vibrant places that local people can walk to and where they want to spend time.
Unfortunately, we are being hit with a decrease in amenities such as libraries, banks and community pubs and an increase in fast food outlets and betting shops which can cause problems for local people. A massive 81 per cent of British adults think that communities should have a say when the use of a local building is changed. We’re campaigning to give this power back to the people, so communities can ensure that their streets don’t shut out the more vulnerable and are designed with basic amenities within walking distance.”
“By breathing life back into our local and neighbourhoods, we believe that the health of our communities will be better, people will take pride in where they live and fewer people will feel isolated.”
The Government will soon start putting together a National Planning Framework, setting out its planning priorities for England. Living Streets wants the National Planning Framework to recognise the value of walking-friendly neighbourhoods and state that new residential developments should have access to local shops and services within walking distance.
Living Streets is campaigning to make sure neighbourhood shops and services are kept within walking distance and are at the heart of any changes to planning regulations. While the government is undertaking the biggest shake-up of the UK planning system for a generation, Living Streets is campaigning to make sure they understand the need to keep the shops and services we value within walking distance. The campaign invites people to celebrate their neighbourhood hero and to send a sign to government that we want to keep them close, not watch them close. To find out more, visit www.livingstreets.org.uk