Innovative neighbourhoods, where everyone living in them has access to most of their everyday needs within a 20-minute walk, could be trialled in Norfolk.

The county council has agreed to work with other authorities and transport bosses to explore the creation of such districts in urban and rural areas.

The idea of 20-minute neighbourhoods is that people can get to key services, such as healthcare, schools, parks and shops selling fresh food, with no need to get in a car.

Such neighbourhoods have gained popularity in the United States, Australia and Scandinavia, with the concept that people can walk to and back from services within 20 minutes - 10 minutes there and 10 minutes back.

Thetford & Brandon Times: In a 20-minute neighbourhood, key services such as shops are just a short walk away.In a 20-minute neighbourhood, key services such as shops are just a short walk away. (Image: Simon Finlay)

Councillors want to see if, by working with other councils, such neighbourhoods could be created in Norfolk through good planning when it comes to homes, transport and infrastructure.

Areas of Norfolk where major development is planned, where the 20-minute neighbourhood concept could be explored, include the proposed 'railway village' near North Elmham, Attleborough, Thetford or the Rackheath area north east of Norwich.

Thetford & Brandon Times: Norfolk county councillor Lana HempsallNorfolk county councillor Lana Hempsall (Image: Conservative Party)

Lana Hempsall, Conservative county councillor for Acle, proposed a motion about the possible creation of the neighbourhoods at a recent county council meeting, which was supported by 48 councillors, with none voting against.

"A 20-minute neighbourhood is typically defined as a place where people can meet most of their everyday needs through a pleasant, fully accessible, 20-minute return journey undertaken without the use of a car," she said.

"Typically, a 20-minute neighbourhood approach should help to disperse investment, jobs and services more widely across a town or city rather than just focusing on the centre.

"Making sure that neighbourhoods are compact and fully accessible, as well as containing a mix of different shops, services and amenities will make it easier for more people to move around on foot, by wheelchair, by bike, by bus or other non-car means.

"Research shows that people are generally happy to travel for 20 minutes to get to and from the places they need to go."

While cars would not be banned, the neighbourhoods would be designed so walking, cycling or using public transport might be a more direct way to reach services.

The county council has agreed to work with Transport East - which helps determine where investment is needed - over the idea.

County Hall officers will also work with district councils and other organisations to review the evidence and benefits of trialling a number of 20-minute neighbourhoods in rural and urban areas.

Thetford & Brandon Times: Norfolk Green county councillor Jamie OsbornNorfolk Green county councillor Jamie Osborn (Image: Jamie Osborn)

Green county councillor Jamie Osborn said the council should halt work on the controversial Norwich Western Link road and divert officers to exploring the 20-minute neighbourhood concept instead.