How Inclusive Town Planning can Help us all Thrive Post-Pandemic

With the UK back in a second national lockdown, what the future will look like is uncertain. But one thing is for sure, when we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic, our towns and cities will be forever changed.

Town planners will be key players in the fight to create new-age urbans spaces that can protect us from a similar crisis moving forward. Prioritising inclusivity and representation of all community members will be vital in ensuring nobody gets left behind.

This year’s World Town Planning Day, which took place on 8th November, and focused on the social pillars of equity, diversity and inclusion are more relevant than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt highlighted stark inequalities within the population. Increased representation of women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), disabled, working class and LGBT+ individuals will be key in the process of rebuilding communities that are both safe and welcoming for all.

As we briefly discussed in a previous blog post, the inevitable choice by companies to retain at least some of their work-from-home measures could well lead to less of a need for office space within urban areas.

This will open up both land and resources for the creation of brand-new, well-spaced and public-health friendly social hubs.

The town planning industry will be right at the forefront of the implementation of these new-age spaces, and it is vital that we consider the needs of every community, providing a welcoming and convenient-for-all environment.

The inevitable redesign of our public spaces is an opportunity to build venues with maximum accessibility. From a practical point of view, areas should be designed to allow disabled members of the community to enjoy them free from barriers.

Culturally, care should be taken to design spaces that foster connection, bridging the gap between previously separated communities within towns and cities. Welcoming all residents, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation or religious beliefs should be a priority.

This change must start from within. By empowering town planners from a range of backgrounds, we can gain a more in-depth insight into the needs of individual groups, enhancing the chances of success for all in these ambitious ventures.

The Coronavirus pandemic has radically changed the way we view our public areas, whilst offering an important insight into the changes required to create a safer future for urban living.

With town planners leading the way in this journey towards innovative new social spaces and public areas, it’s more important than ever to keep the social pillars at the forefront of our minds.

Though the impacts of the pandemic have been devastating, town planners focused on both social cohesion and physical and cultural accessibility can help ensure we rebuild effectively.

Ultimately, the goal is for our cities to come back better than ever, ensuring ‘normal’ life will return with the promise of a brighter future for everyone.