Updated Jul 23, 2021

RTPI say planning is 'essential' to children's recovery after COVID-19

According to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) guidance, planners should engage children and young people at an early stage within policies, plans and developments.

As around 20% of the UK population is under 16 years old, the guidance says children face numerous challenges directly related to the built environment, including:

  • poor-quality and overcrowded housing;
  • high levels of pollution;
  • limited access to quality green space;
  • opportunities for play; and
  • the impacts of climate change.

The guidance recognises that young lives have been further damaged by COVID-19, with lockdowns, school closures and reduced social interaction.

It stresses the importance of "meaningful" consultation and engagement with children and young people in the planning process through the use of creative techniques such as:

  • Minecraft;
  • Lego building;
  • model-making; and
  • arts and crafts.

Planners should also work closely with health and education professionals to understand the experience of children and to create spatial solutions that improve their lives.

Wei Yang, RTPI president, said: "Major disruption to education, alongside the limited opportunities to see friends and wider families, to play and enjoy activities and the worry about the impact of Covid-19 on their families, will have taken a heavy toll on some children – good town planning is essential if we are to help them recover".

"I am particularly pleased to see that one of the aims of this advice is to expand the scope of what is currently understood by most planning professionals as ‘planning for children’ – we must move beyond the provision of playgrounds and schools towards a more ambitious approach that encompasses all aspects of children’s lives".

The guidance also urges planners to explore the use of the Real Play Coalition's Urban Play Framework, a tool for assessing the critical factors behind a play-friendly environment to maximise child development and learning.

For more information on this subject, see: