Town Planning in 2022

It’s still too early to make predictions on how urban landscapes will change as a result of the response to the global movement restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The so-called “new normal” is bound to affect the way town planning consultants look at city design.

Let’s take a closer look at reported trends for town planning expected to take hold and remain in place from 2022 onwards.

More mixed-use zones

The past zoning practices focussed on the creation of single-use spaces as part of organised land use management. Residential areas had mostly dwellings for people, with perhaps a small shopping centre for all the community retailers. These would include the hairstylist, laundry services, dog grooming, butcher, postal services and the grocery store etc. In recent years we’ve seen mixed-use areas gain more popularity, even before the big COVD scare in 2020.

With this new trend, coffee shops, gyms, offices, and even fuel stations have become part of the residential landscapes. In even more recent times, mixed-use city design trends have become more evident where large shopping centres, often with open-air characteristics, along with conference facilities, sport and recreational facilities, places for religious worship, education and housing are built in one mixed area. Nowadays, even light industrial operations are visible in some areas where previously you would only have found homes.

Why is this trend important? Because the closer people live to where they work, relax, play, worship, exercise, learn and shop, the easier it is for them to use essential facilities even when circumstances dictate that movement must be restricted. In this way, people will be able to walk to many of the places where they need to be without having to make use of transport.

More open spaces and integration of nature in urban landscapes

Town planning of the future will include city designs that enable people to get to pause spaces in nature without having to leave the boundaries of the city. During the height of lockdown periods, people had exceptionally limited opportunities to spend time outdoors. We can expect more parks and increased greening of the urban landscapes. This would also be in line with the sustainability trends in urban design to ensure less travel time required from one place to another, reduced carbon footprint, and improved air quality. Bringing nature into the city environment makes it possible to achieve all these goals.

Instead of having to escape the confines of the city jungle to get to nature, people will be able to enjoy picnics, fishing, running, cycling, bird watching, and other outdoor activities in the areas where they reside. In South Africa, town planning has to make provision for the high-density and low-cost housing areas where open spaces and recreation facilities, shops and educational facilities are still too far from the housing areas. In these areas, space will have to be created to bring nature closer to where the people live.

New modes of transport

In the past, the focus was on the reduction of traffic and the increase in public transport solutions. Although the move towards cycling and alternative means of transport has taken shape long before 2022, this trend will continue. Town planning of the future will take these alternative modes of movement into consideration in the design of transport infrastructure. will also receive attention in design to allow for more resilience and flexibility.

Local travel means visiting local places

Travel restrictions have severely affected entertainment and tourism industries across the world. The global travel trend has changed to local travel. People will look towards local experiences in future. As such, urban design concepts need to include designs and land use management solutions to make it possible for people to have unique experiences at their doorsteps and without having to travel abroad.

Key takeaways on what to expect from town planning in 2022 and beyond

For many, 2022 will be the end of global restrictions, whilst for others it marks the beginning of a new era of thinking and living. We can expect town planning to continue focussing on sustainable aspects such as the reduction of carbon footprint, more nature in the city, reduced need for travelling, provision for different modes of movement, and bringing the world of experiences closer to where people live.