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Rethinking Urban Planning For Healthy Cities In The Wake Of COVID-19 Lessons From Wuhan

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The COVID-19 crisis presents a unique opportunity to re-examine urban planning across various contexts. Given the high population density and concentrated built environment of large Chinese cities like Wuhan, residents of these cities are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic. It is, therefore, urgent to explore healthoriented urban planning strategies for such cities. This study examines Wuhan's urban planning regime, covering the planning system, method, and process of planning-making, to identify the gaps that need to be addressed to build a healthy city. To achieve this, we used participatory observations, semi-structured interviews, and surveys of typical sites. Our findings reveal, first, urban planning and public health are not well integrated in Wuhan's planning process. Second, market-oriented planning has resulted in high density in the central areas of the city, with inadequate provision of medical services to meet residents' needs. Third, traditional planning that solely considers facilities layout has contributed to the city's vulnerability to health-related issues, including uneven spatial distribution of essential amenities, deprivation of disadvantaged neighbourhoods or social groups, and li le consideration for everyday needs. Finally, poor plan-making characterized by segregated intersectoral actions, limited public participation, and absence of feedback mechanisms, impedes the creation of a healthy Wuhan. To address these issues, we recommend the spatial strategies of decentralization and small-scale redevelopment and emphasize the need for people-centred planning. Overall, this study highlights the urgent need for health-oriented urban planning in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The case of Wuhan illustrates the critical role that planning plays in shaping the resilience of cities to public health emergencies. Our study contributes to the growing body of research on urban planning and public health, providing valuable insights for policymakers, planners, and researchers to build healthier and more resilient cities.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2023

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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