Covid-19 and spatial planning

A few issues concerning public policy

  • Sabrina Lai Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture University of Cagliari
  • Federica Leone Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture University of Cagliari
  • Corrado Zoppi University of Cagliari
Keywords: COVID-19, Post-lockdown Planning, Food Self-sufficiency, Mobility, Climate Change


This article analyzes some relevant questions as regards the impact of COVID-19-related social living conditions on spatial planning policies and practices. The proposed discussion aims at highlighting and discussing a number of outstanding topics of spatial planning which public administrative bodies, practitioners, entrepreneurs and organizations operating in the profit and non-profit sectors, and the local communities should carefully consider with reference to a new planning outset after the lockdown period. Innovative and creative approaches should be identified and implemented when dealing with collective public spaces, shopping malls, retail activities and related areas, urban and regional mobility-related infrastructure and services, food-supply changes and their implications in terms of development of local food-producing practices, spatial social control and privacy, mitigation of climate change-related negative impacts, and public awareness and commitment towards losers, especially urban losers. Each of these points presents important challenges for the future of spatial planning. Some of these challenges are synthetically described and discussed in this article.



Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Sabrina Lai, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture University of Cagliari

She is a civil engineer, a Doctor of Research in Land Engineering (Italy, 2009), and an MSc in International Planning and Development (UK, 2008). She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Cagliari (Sector ICAR/20 – Spatial planning), where she is presently teaching at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture of the University of Cagliari in the Graduate Program in Environmental and Territorial Engineering (module leader for the Strategic Planning course).

Federica Leone, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture University of Cagliari

She is a building engineer, a Doctor of Research in Land Engineering (Italy, 2013), and an MSc in International Planning and Development (UK, 2012). She is currently a research fellow at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture of the University of Cagliari.

Corrado Zoppi, University of Cagliari

Corrado Zoppi is a civil engineer, a Doctor of Philosophy in Economics (USA, 1997), a Doctor of Research in Territorial Planning (Italy, 1992), and an MSc in Economic Policy and Planning (USA, 1990). He is a Professor at the University of Cagliari (Sector ICAR/20 – Spatial planning). He is presently teaching at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture of the University of Cagliari in the Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Environmental and Territorial Engineering and in Sustainable Tourism Management and Monitoring (Regional and Urban Planning, Strategic Planning and Environmental planning).


Aghamolaei, R. (2017). Urban renewal with a cultural approach. Manzar. The Iranian Scientific Open Access Journal of Landscape, 9(39), 38–47.

Alberti, F. & Paloscia, R. (2018). Florence and the river: new urban perspectives. International Journal of Engineering & Technology, 7(1.4), 47–53.

Anzai, A., Kobayashi, T., Linton, N.M., Kinoshita, R., Hayashi, K., Suzuki, A., Yang, Y., Jung, S., Miyama, T., Akhmetzhanov, A.R. & Nishiura, H. (2020). Assessing the impact of reduced travel on exportation dynamics of novel Coronavirus infection (COVID-19). Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9 (2, 601), 9 pp.

Armstrong, D. (2000). A survey of community gardens in upstate New York: Implications for health promotion and community development. Health & Place, 6, 319–327.

Badii, C., Bellini, P., Bilotta, S., Bologna, D., Cenni, D., Difino, A., Ipsaro Palesi, A., Mitolo, N., Nesi, P., Pantaleo, G., Paoli, I., Paolucci, M. & Soderi, M. (2020). Impact on mobility and environmental data of COVID-19 lockdown on Florence Area. Preprints.

Balletto, G. & Borruso, G. (2019). Sport in the city. Football games without frontiers. The case of the Cagliari stadium. Agribusiness Paesaggio & Ambiente, 22(2), 121–128.

Barrett, S. (2007). Introduction: the incentives to supply global public goods. In: Barrett, S. (2007) Why Cooperate?: The Incentive to Supply Global Public Goods.

Retrieved from:

Batty, M. (2020). The Coronavirus crisis: What will the post-pandemic city look like? Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 47(4), 547–552.

Bennett, L. (2020). Salt Lake City converts street to pedestrian, bicycle traffic.

Retrieved from:

Benton, T.G. (2020). COVID-19 and disruptions to food systems. Agriculture and Human Values.

Berk, J. (2020). Getting creative with space to reopen our local economies.

Retrieved from:

Biddulph, M. (2003). The limitations of the urban village concept in neighborhood renewal: A Merseyside case study. Urban Design International, 8, 5–19.

Birch, E.L. (1996). Planning in a world city: New York and its communities. Journal of the American Planning Association, 62(4), 442–459.

Blečić, I., Cecchini, A., Congiu, T., Fancello, G. & Trunfio, G.A. (2015). Evaluating walkability: a capability-wise planning and design support system. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 29(8), 1350–1374.

Bonfante, F. & Pallini, C. (2014). The role of a historic townscape in city reconstruction. In J. Pendlebury, E. Erten & P.J. Larkham, Alternative visions of post-war reconstruction. Creating the modern townscape, pp. 142-160, New York, NY, United States and London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Brouwer, R., Lienhoop, N. & Oosterhuis, F. (2015). Incentivizing afforestation agreements: Institutional-economic conditions and motivational drivers. Journal of Forest Economics 21(4), 205–222.

Brunetta, G. & Salata, S. (2019). Mapping urban resilience for spatial planning—A first attempt to measure the vulnerability of the system. Sustainability, 11(8, 2331), 24 pp.

Cappelli, A. & Cini, E. (2020). Will the COVID-19 pandemic make us reconsider the relevance of short food supply chains and local productions? Trends in Food Science & Technology, 99, 566–567.

Caprino (2020). Ridotto il bonus bici: il contributo per l’acquisto si ferma al 60%. Mobilità elettrica in prima fila ai semafori Retrieved from:

Carmona, M. (2015). Re-theorising contemporary public space: a new narrative and a new normative. Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 8(4), 373–405.

Casellas, A. (2009). Barcelona’s urban landscape. The historical making of a tourist product. Journal of Urban History, 35(6), 815–832.

Catalano, M., Forni, L. & Pezzolla, E. (2020). Che impatto avrà la pandemia Covid-19 sul climate change?. Retrieved from:

City of Rome (2018). Rome resilience strategy. Rome, Italy: City of Rome. Retrieved from:

Clough Marinaro, I. & Solimene, M. (2020). Navigating the (in)formal city: Roma, urban life and governance in Rome. Cities, 96 (102402), 6 pp.

Cohen, S. (2020). Social distance, sustainable cities and building public health capacity. Retrieved from:

Cohen, J. & Kupferschmidt, C. (2020). Strategies shift as coronavirus pandemic looms. Science, 367 (6481), 962–963.

Coppola, P., Angiello, G., Carpentieri, G. & Papa, E. (2014). Urban form and sustainability: the case study of Rome. Procedia: Social & Behavioral Sciences, 160, 557–566.

Cols C. (2020). Barcelona ampliará aceras y carriles bici para minimizar los contagios. Retrieved from:

Couch, C. (2008). Urban regeneration in Liverpool. In C. Couch, C. Fraser & S. Percy (Eds.), Urban regeneration in Europe, pp. 34–54, Oxford, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.

Cysek-Pawlak, M.M. (2018). Mixed use and diversity as a New Urbanism principle guiding the renewal of post-industrial districts. Case studies of the Paris Rive Gauche and the New Centre of Lodz. Urban Development Issues, 57(1), 53–62.

Dantas, G., Siciliano, B., Boscaro França, B., da Silva, C.M. & Arbilla, G. (2020). The impact of COVID-19 partial lockdown on the air quality of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Science of the Total Environment, 729, 139085.

De Vos, J. (2020). The effect of COVID-19 and subsequent social distancing on travel behavior. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 5(100121).

Deaton, B.J. & Deaton, B.J. (2020). Food security and Canada’s agricultural system challenged by COVID-19. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economy.

Firth, C., Maye, D. & Pearson D. (2011). Developing “community” in community gardens. Local Environment, 16(6), 555–568.

Falchetta, G. & Noussan, M. (2020). The Impact of COVID-19 on transport demand, modal choices, and sectoral energy consumption in Europe. IAEE Energy Forum, Special Issue 2020.

Retrieved from:

Forester, J. (1999). The deliberative practitioner, Cambridge, MA, United States: MIT Press.

Friedmann, J. (1987). Planning in the public domain, Princeton, NJ, United States: Princeton University Press.

Galanakis C.M. (2020). The food systems in the era of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Crisis. Foods, 9, 523 (10 pp.).

Google LLC (2020). Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports. Retrieved from:

Gray, R.S. (2020). Agriculture, transportation, and the COVID-19 crisis. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economy.

Grant, J. & Perott, K. (2010). Where is the café? The challenge of making retail uses viable in mixed-use suburban developments. Urban Studies, 48(1), 177–195.

Hawkins, A.J. (2020). How the novel Coronavirus is speeding the scooter apocalypse. Retrieved from:

Helm, D. (2020). The environmental impacts of the coronavirus. Environmental and Resource Economics, 76, 21–38.

Hobbs, J.E. (2020). Food supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economy.

Italian General Confederation of Enterprises, Professional Activities and Self-Employment (Confcommercio) (2020). Congiuntura confcommercio. Pil mensile, ICC e Prezzi. Retrieved from:

Ivanov, D. & Dolgui, A. (2020). Viability of intertwined supply networks: extending the supply chain resilience angles towards survivability. A position paper motivated by COVID-19 outbreak. International Journal of Production Research, 58(10), 2904–2915.

Jacobs, J. (1961). The death and life of great American cities, New York, NY, United States: Random House.

Jones, C., Lee, J.Y. & Lee, T. (2019). Institutionalizing place: Materiality and meaning in Boston’s North End. In P. Haack, J. Sieweke & L. Wessel (Eds.) Microfoundations of Institutions, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 65B, pp. 211–239, Somerville, MA, United States: Emerald Publishing Limited.

King, D.A., Krizek, K.J. (2020) The power of reforming streets to boost access for human scaled vehicles. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 83, 102336.

Kolodinsky, J., Sitaker, M., Chase, L., Smith, D. & Wang, W. (2020). Food systems disruptions: Turning a threat into an opportunity for local food systems. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(3), 1–4.

Kotkin, J. (2000). The new geography: how the digital revolution is reshaping the American landscape, New York, NY, United States: Random House.

Kraemer, M.U.G., Yang, C.H, Gutierrez, B., Wu, C.H., Klein, B., Pigott, D.M., Open COVID-19 Data Working Group, du Plessis, L., Faria, N.R., Li, R., Hanage, W.P., Brownstein, J.S., Layan, M., Vespignani, A., Tian, H., Dye, C., Pybus, O.G., Scarpino, S.V. (2020). The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in China. Science, 368(6490), 493–497.

Lai, S., Leone, F. & Zoppi, C. (2017). Anthropization processes and protection of the environment: An assessment of land cover changes in Sardinia, Italy. Sustainability, 9(12, 2174), 19 pp.

Lai, S., Leone, F. & Zoppi, C. (2020). Spatial distribution of surface temperature and land cover: A study concerning Sardinia, Italy. Sustainability, 12(8, 3186), 20 pp.

Laker, L. (2020) World cities turn their streets over to walkers and cyclists. Retrieved from:

Leccis, F. (2019). Regeneration programmes: Enforcing the right to housing or fostering gentrification? The example of Bankside in London. Land Use Policy, 89 (104217), 9 pp.

Magaudda, S., D’Ascanio, R., Muccitelli, S. & Palazzo, A.L. (2020). ‘Greening’ green infrastructure. Good Italian practices for enhancing green infrastructure. Sustainability, 12(6, 2301), 22 pp.

Magnaghi, A. (2000). Il progetto locale, Turin, Italy: Bollati-Boringhieri.

Mahato, S., Pal, S. & Gopal Ghosh, K. (2020). Effect of lockdown amid COVID-19 pandemic on air quality of the megacity Delhi, India. Science of the Total Environment, 730, 139086.

Marcuse, P. (2017). From utopian and realistic to transformative planning. In B. Haselsberger (Ed.). Encounters in planning thought. 16 Autobiographical essays from key thinkers in spatial planning, pp. 35-50, New York, NY, United States and London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Maus, J. (2020). Portland launches 100-mile ‘Slow Streets Safe Streets’ COVID-19 response effort. Retrieved from:

Mcwilliams, B. & Zachmann, G. (2020). Covid-19 crisis: electricity demand as a real-time indicator. Retrieved from:

Mentzer, J.T., DeWitt, W., Keebler, J.S., Min, S., Wix, N., Smith, C.D., & Zacharia, Z.G. (2001). Defining supply chain management. Journal of Business Logistics, 22(2), 1–25.

Mehanna, Wa.A.El-H. & Mehanna, We.A.El-H. (2019). Urban renewal for traditional commercial streets at the historical centers of cities. Alexandria Engineering Journal, 58(4), 1127–1143.

Muggah, R. & Ermacora, T. (2020). Opinion: Redesigning the COVID-19 city. Special Series – The Coronavirus Crisis, NPR media organization. Retrieved from:

Musselwhite, C., Avineri, E. & Susilo, Y. (2020). Editorial JTH 16 –The Coronavirus disease COVID-19 and implications for transport and health. Journal of Transport & Health, 16 (100853).

NACTO (2020). Streets for pandemic response & recovery. Retrieved from:

NSW Government, Office of Communities (2012). Stadia strategy, Sydney, Australia: NSW Government, Office of Communities - Retrieved from:

O’Sullivan, F. (2020). Europe’s cities are making less room for cars after Coronavirus. Retrieved from:

Patricolo, C. (2020). How the car-centric lifestyle contributes to food shortages. Retrieved from:

Power, M., Doherty., B., Pybus., K. & Pickett. K. (2020). How Covid-19 has exposed inequalities in the UK food system: The case of UK food and poverty. Version 2. Emerald Open Research, 2(11).

Rahman, N.A.A., Rahim, S.A., Ahmad, M.F. & Hafizuddin-Syah, B.A.M. (2020). Exploring COVID-19 pandemic: Its impact to global aviation industry and the key strategy. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, 29 (6s), 1829–1836 - Retrieved from:

Reid, C. (2020). Paris to create 650 kilometers of post-lockdown cycleways - Retrieved from:

Rowe, D.B. (2011). Green roofs as a means of pollution abatement. Environmental Pollution, 159(8–9), 2100–2110.

Samuelsson, K., Barthel, S., Colding, J., Macassa G. & Giusti M. (2020). Urban nature as a source of resilience during social distancing amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved from:

Sanyé-Mengual, E., Anguelovski, I., Oliver-Solà, J., Montero, J.I., Rieradevall, J. (2016). Resolving differing stakeholder perceptions of urban rooftop farming in Mediterranean cities: Promoting food production as a driver for innovative forms of urban agriculture. Agriculture and Human Values, 33, 101–120.

Schmelzkopf, K. (1995). Urban community gardens as contested space. Geographical Review, 85(3), 364–381.

Schmelzkopf, K. (2002). Incommensurability, land use, and the right to space: Community gardens in New York City, Urban Geography, 23(4), 323–343.

Schmidt, M. (2020). Impacts of COVID on urban transport. Preprint:

Shahidi, F. (2020). Does COVID-19 affect food safety and security? A summary report on the extraordinary scientific roundtable of IUFoST-CIFST on March 21, 2020.

Retrieved from:

Short, J.R. (1996). The urban order: An introduction to cities, culture, and power, Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell.

Sofo, A. & Sofo, A. (2020). Converting home spaces into food gardens at the time of Covid-19 quarantine: All the benefits of plants in this difficult and unprecedented period. Human Ecology.

Thomaier, S., Specht, K., Henckel, D., Dierich, A., Siebert, R., Freisinger, U. & Sawicka, M. (2015). Farming in and on urban buildings: Present practice and specific novelties of Zero-Acreage Farming (ZFarming). Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 30(1), 43–54.

Troko, J., Myles, P., Gibson, J., Hashim, A., Enstone, J., Kingdon, S., Packham, C., Amin, S., Hayward, A., Nguyen Van-Tam, J. (2011). Is public transport a risk factor for acute respiratory infection? BMC Infectious Diseases, 11(16).

Twiss, J., Dickinson, J., Duma, S., Kleinman, T., Paulsen, H. & Rilveria, L. (2003). Community gardens: Lessons learned from California healthy cities and communities. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 1435–1438,

TUMI (2020). The COVID-19 outbreak and implications to sustainable urban mobility – some observations. Retrieved from:

UN-Habitat & World Health Organization (2020). Integrating health in urban and territorial planning: A sourcebook. Geneva, Switzerland: UN-HABITAT and World Health Organization. Retrieved from:

UNECE (2020). Governments in Pan-European region launch UN Task Force to make ‎post-COVID-19 pandemic mobility more environmentally sound, healthy ‎and sustainable ‎- Retrieved from:

Urbano, J. (2015). The Cerdà plan for the expansion of Barcelona: A model for modern city planning. Focus. The Journal of Planning Practice and Education, 12(1), 47–51.

van Doremalen, N., Bushmaker, T., Morris, D.H., Hoolbrook, M.G., Gamble, A., Williamson, B.N., Tamin, A., Harcourt, J.L., Thornburg, N.J., Gerber, S.I., Lloyd-Smith, J.O., de Wit, E. & Munster, V.J. (2020). Aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV-1. The New England Journal of Medicine, 382, 1564–1567. https://doi.org10.1056/NEJMc2004973

Vorontsova A.V., Vorontsova V.L. & Salimgareev D.V. (2016). The development of urban areas and spaces with the mixed functional use. Procedia Engineering, 150, 1996–2000.

Walters, A. & Midden, K.S. (2018). Sustainability of urban agriculture: Vegetable production on green roofs. Agriculture, 8(11, 168), 16 pp.

Wells, C.R., Sah, P., Moghadas, S.M., Pandey, A., Shoukat, A. Wang, Y., Wang, Z., Meyers, L.S., Singer, B.H. & Galvani, A.P. (2020). Impact of international travel and border control measures on the global spread of the novel 2019 Coronavirus outbreak. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(13), 7504–7509.

Yinghui Astee, L. & Kishnani, N.T. (2010). Building integrated agriculture: Utilising rooftops for sustainable food crop cultivation in Singapore. Journal of Green Building, 5(2), 105–113.

Zavalloni, M., D’Alberto, R., Raggi, M. & Viaggi, D. (in press). Farmland abandonment, public goods and the CAP in a marginal area of Italy. Land Use Policy.

Zipper, D. & Westervelt, M. (2020). Anyone feel like saving electric scooters?

Retrieved from:

How to Cite
Lai, S., Leone, F., & Zoppi, C. (2020). Covid-19 and spatial planning. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 231-246.
Special Issue - Covid-19 vs City-20