Planners urge master plan reviews to curb shocks in cities
To improve the economy and the emergency response system, urban development experts have called for a rethink in approaches to city planning and designs.
The town planning practitioners who stated this in a webinar titled ‘Covid-19 and urban planning’ in Lagos, said master plans now need constant monitoring and reviews to mitigate unforeseen cities’ shocks like a health crisis, fire, and flooding.
The president, African Planning Association, Waheed Kadiri, who led the discussion, explained that urban planning imperatives in the Covid-19 pandemic era must take into focus designs that are integrated, inclusive, resourceful, reflective, robust and flexible.
Kadiri said the city must be physically connected in design and transportation clearly defined in hierarchies up to the neighbourhood level.
He said that there should be a co-production and participatory planning process in which planners must seek workable solutions that involve, youth, women, people living with disabilities and people in the informal sector.
Kadiri, a past President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners NITP), said in space allocation, physical planning must discourage over-reliance on a single asset. He urged planners to make provision for open space to enhance recreation, ensure accessibility in terms of the road network in communities to facilitate emergency services.
“Resilience in design will limit system failure. Well-conceived, constructed and physical assets are needed so that they can withstand impacts of shocks and provide backup capacity. Cities design need spare capacity purposely created to accommodate disruption, extreme pressure or surges in demand.
According to him, there could be a change in the system through the introduction of new knowledge including indigenous knowledge. “The pandemic is evolving into an urban crisis, forcing us to reconsider our deeply held beliefs about good city form and the purpose of planning. We face a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty.”
He also cautioned that planning standards must promote livability, accessibility of slums and informal settlements as well as agility.
“We need to re-plan over a short period and weigh in the nexus of cost-benefit to ensure that people are not trapped in their cities. If they must go out, they will travel in a relatively healthy and less risky way. We must plan movement frameworks and deploy supporting technologies to ensure rapid disease detection and capacity to deploy early response systems to control emerging infections”, he said.
In his contribution, a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos, ’Leke Oduwaye said there is need to re-evaluate the structure of cities, through physical planning, adding that if the cost of investment is the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, then prevention is worth the price.
Oduwaye said city planners should expect resistance from other public agencies and stakeholders especially concerning density. “We need to review and improve flaws in digital infrastructure such as telecommunication mast locations.
“Data integration is critical to future urban planning. Cities must promote e-commerce, streaming video, remote patient monitoring/telemedicine and autonomous health checks. Transformation of the transport system to encourage fewer journeys to work, more convenient transport system, less transport congestion and provision of more well ventilated public areas with generous natural lighting will prevent infectious diseases spread”, he stated.
The immediate past chair, Association of African Planning Schools, Ghana, Prof. Daniel Inkoom, said that planning institutions must train the next generation of planners who are also leaders, facilitators, communicators, and people-centred.
He said it was important to build leadership and networks across all levels of society to respond to issues at different scales.
“To offset the threat of pestilence, London in the 17th century, replaced older wooden structures with brick, believed to more impervious to disease-carrying vermin. New York deployed massive investments in sewer and sanitation systems, expansion of parks and green spaces, development of building codes to fight infectious diseases such as cholera. During the Spanish flu, there was the introduction of “powder rooms” in homes to provide a place to wash hands, to avoid carrying germs into the upstairs living quarters.”
On his part, former chairman, Nigerian Institute of Architectures, Lagos State Chapter, Mr. Ladi Lewis advised planners to ensure that the new urban environment adapts to the new normal, utilising new technology to enhance and sustain urban living conditions.
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