New paper published - Trends and inequalities in distance to and use of nearest natural space in the context of the 20-min neighbourhood. 

The 20-minute neighbourhood is a policy priority for governments worldwide and a key feature of this policy is providing access to natural space within 800m of home.

The study by the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Public Health Scotland and MRC Epidemiology Unit and Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), University of Cambridge examined:

  • the association between distance to the nearest natural space and the frequency of use of this space over time 
  • whether frequent use and changes in use were patterned by income and housing tenure over time

Bi-annual Scottish Household Survey data was obtained for 2013 to 2019 and adults were asked the walking distance to their nearest natural space, the frequency of visits to this space and their housing tenure, as well as age, sex and income. Researchers examined the association between distance from home of nearest natural space, housing tenure, and the likelihood of frequent natural space use (visited once a week or more).

They found that:

  • 87% of respondents lived within 10 min walk of a natural space, meeting the policy specification for a 20-min neighbourhood.
  • Greater proximity to natural space was associated with increased use; individuals living a 6–10 min walk and over 10 min walk were respectively 53% and 78% less likely to report frequent natural space use than those living within a 5 min walk.
  • Housing tenure was an important predictor of frequent natural space use; private renters and homeowners were more likely to report frequent NS use than social renters.

Their findings provide evidence that proximity to natural space is a strong predictor of frequent use. The study provides important evidence that time-based access measures alone do not consider deep-rooted socioeconomic variation in use of natural space. Policy makers should ensure a nuanced lens is applied to operationalising and monitoring the 20-min neighbourhood to safeguard against exacerbating existing inequalities.