Planning in the post-pandemic era

This article looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed shortcomings in urban planning and how planners should take advantage of the new political space prompted by this and consider how the new normal could in fact reduce inequalities and risks.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

This article looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed shortcomings in urban planning and how planners should take advantage of the new political space prompted by this and consider how the new normal could in fact reduce inequalities and risks. The authors propose that whilst high level politicians are working towards going back to the ‘before’, perhaps this is a window of opportunity to improve and alternatively create a ‘new normal’ that is better for the urban living environment. Particular emphasis is placed on greener planning alternatives that can reduce pollution in various forms and other policies that improve the broader urban realm. In turn, this could also help boost local jobs and economies.

The article then points to ten issues that planners should debate and consider:

  1. What kinds of public space should planners incorporate into future plans? Also – where should they be situated based on where they are most needed?
  2. What kinds of mobility best serve the needs of local areas?
  3. How can new technologies for mobilities and services help adapt existing cities to reduce land prioritised for cars and car parks to give room for recreation, walking, and cycling?
  4. How can allowing flat conversions without windows to go ahead be acceptable considering the restrictions experienced over the past year?
  5. Due to COVID-19 and the global issue of climate change, hazard planning and risk
    management should be at the centre of politicians and planners focus.
  6. Local governments need adequate resourcing to accommodate good planning for better cities.
  7. How can we increase resilience to shocks and stresses on a local level?
  8. What opportunities to rethink urban space and behaviour could emerge out of the current disruption of COVID-19?
  9. How can this situation help towns and cities adapt and prepare for any future crisis that may occur?
  10. There is an opportunity to make participatory planning practices more inclusive in local communities by increasing model intelligibility and transparency.

The article concludes that common response to crisis is to attempt to revert to previous practices rather than using it as an opportunity to create new ones. It states that planners should aim to actively shape the debates in the new political spaces emerging in response to the pandemic rather than responding other’s ideas.