A number of UK councils have put forward plans to develop 15-minute cities, including Oxford, Sheffield, Bristol, and Canterbury, while planning reforms in Scotland approved in January also propose 20-minute neighbourhoods to tackle the climate crisis and reach net-zero emissions.

But the plans in Oxford, in particular, have been plagued with misinformation. Katie Hopkins, the former reality TV star banned from many social media platforms for spreading hate speech and disinformation, is one of a number of people claiming new plans will give people just “15 minutes of freedom”.

Following a consultation with 5,000 residents and businesses across Oxford in 2022, the council will trial traffic filters similar to London’s congestion zone. From 2024, drivers will be encouraged to use the ring road to get across town rather than drive through it directly, and will have permits to drive freely through their own neighbourhoods but apply for permits to other areas..

A statement released by Oxford City Council said: “The misinformation online has linked the traffic filters to the 15-minute neighbourhoods proposal in the city council’s Local Plan 2040, suggesting that the traffic filters will be used to confine people to their local area. This is not true.”

Similarly, Canterbury City Council plans to ask residents to drive along a new bypass instead of through other neighbourhoods, with fines imposed if drivers use the smaller roads connecting the five districts.

Residents will also be encouraged to use public transport, walk or cycle instead of driving.

Though these plans to reduce traffic would be beneficial to the idea of a 15-minute city, they are not the same.

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