Conspiracy theories on '15-minute cities' flourish

Urban planners are fending off abuse fuelled by conspiracy theories about their "15-minute city" regeneration projects which suspicious social media users claim are the road to "climate lockdowns".

The 15-minute city premise is simple -- all amenities such as parks and grocery stores must be accessible within a quarter of an hour walk or bike ride from a person's home.

Developed in 2015 by an academic in France, the concept has taken off worldwide since the Covid pandemic, with cities such as Paris, Melbourne and Copenhagen seeking to make neighbourhoods more liveable and cut car use to curb climate change.

But, as with Covid measures, unfounded online theories about the initiative have flourished.

Top results in a search for "15 minute city" on TikTok contain mostly scornful videos, including claims that the schemes will restrict residents' movement and fine them for leaving their home districts.

A search on Twitter brings up the hashtag #15minuteprisons in third place after #15minutecities and #15minutecity.