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Planning a mega-city's future: An evaluation of Shanghai's municipal land-use plan


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This article provides a detailed evaluation of Shanghai's municipal land-use plan (SMLUP). It fills a gap in the literature that has examined Shanghai's urban growth and economic restructuring, but has neglected to evaluate the city's municipal plan. This article sets the evaluation of the SMLUP within the administrative and institutional context of the preparation of comprehensive land-use plans in China as well as the extensive literature on Shanghai's urban spatial structure. It identifies a number of strengths and weaknesses of the SMLUR Overall, the SMLUP was found to be a rather technical document that attempts to balance the supply of agricultural and development land. The discussion traces the weaknesses to poorly defined planning terms and concepts within the plan, as well as narrow regulations governing the creation of comprehensive land-use plans. Inconsistencies are also found between policies and objectives contained within the SMLUP and the Comprehensive Plan of Shanghai. The paper concludes that a more comprehensive and holistic plan evaluation framework is required if Chinese city-regions are to be governed by better land-use plans.
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TPR, 79 (2–3) 2008
John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
Planning a mega-city’s future
An evaluation of Shanghai’s municipal land-use plan
John Meligrana is Associate Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning, Queens University, Kingston,
ON, Canada KL R; email Wenwei Ren is Co-Director and Professor at the Institute
of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China. Zhiyao Zhang is Queen’s-Fudan
Liaison Ocer at Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada. Bruce Anderson is Professor in the Civil Engineering
Department, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada.
This article provides a detailed evaluation of Shanghai’s municipal land-use plan (SMLUP). It fills a gap in
the literature that has examined Shanghai’s urban growth and economic restructuring, but has neglected
to evaluate the city’s municipal plan. This article sets the evaluation of the SMLUP within the administrative
and institutional context of the preparation of comprehensive land-use plans in China as well as the exten-
sive literature on Shanghai’s urban spatial structure. It identifies a number of strengths and weaknesses of
the SMLUP. Overall, the SMLUP was found to be a rather technical document that attempts to balance
the supply of agricultural and development land. The discussion traces the weaknesses to poorly defined
planning terms and concepts within the plan, as well as narrow regulations governing the creation of
comprehensive land-use plans. Inconsistencies are also found between policies and objectives contained
within the SMLUP and the Comprehensive Plan of Shanghai. The paper concludes that a more compre-
hensive and holistic plan evaluation framework is required if Chinese city-regions are to be governed by
better land-use plans.
Comprehensive municipal plans are important. They are widely used by local govern-
ments to guide infrastructure investments, map the most ecient arrangement of
various land uses, express a common vision regarding an ideal community, and
support broader policy directions from senior levels of government as well as outline
positive relations with surrounding communities (Baer, ; Leung, a). They
are often a synthesis of a diverse set of demographic, economic, political and social
goals, opportunities and constraints. As a result, the evaluation of plans can lead to
important insights into the broader socioeconomic and political conditions existing
at the time of a plans creation and adoption. It can shed light on current planning
discourse, theories and approaches to plan-making. To this end, plan evaluation
techniques and methods have received much attention from researchers (Alexander,
; Baer, ; Berke and Conroy, ; Hoch, ; Kaiser and Godschalk, ;
Ng, ). For example, comprehensive municipal plans have been reviewed, analysed
and critiqued with respect to urban growth issues (Sutton and Fahmi, ), national
capital planning objectives (Gordon, ), and environmentally sustainable princi-
ples (Berke and Conroy, ; Brody, ; Ng, ). However, the application of
plan evaluation methods to recently prepared land-use plans for Chinese city-regions
has not been fully explored (Friedmann, ; Ng, ; Ng and Xu, ; Yeh and
TPR79_2-3_07_Meligrana.indd 267 9/9/08 10:51:53
John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
Wu, ). In general, Xu () notes that the topic of land-use planning in China
remains largely unexplored.
This paper investigates and evaluates the planning objectives and strategies of
Shanghai’s Municipal Land-Use Plan (SMLUP). The SMLUP is the city’s first plan
to comprehensively deal with land-use planning since China’s economic reforms. A
discussion and description of the SMLUP is thus quite timely. Moreover, an analysis
of this plan can, to a degree, inform the broader state of land-use planning in China.
In recent years, Chinese land-use planning has been subjected to a sustained critique
by both Chinese and international scholars (see, for example, Ng and Xu, ; Wu,
a; Yu, ; Zhang, ). A recent delegation of professional planners from the
Canadian Institute of Planners, invited by the Chinese Government, reported that
urban plans and planning appear to be disjointed, lacking in scope and context, and
contain little apparent coordination with other plans developed by higher levels of
government (CIP, ). In addition, Yu () enumerates a vast number of challenges
facing Chinese planners as China moves towards a market economy. Presently, Chinese
land-use planners have no suitable urban theory, intellectual framework, guidelines or
set of ‘best practices’ to help shape and develop adequate comprehensive municipal
plans (see Wu, a; Yu, ; Zhang, ). It appears that Chinese urban and
regional planning is experiencing growing pains. This study attempts to stimulate a
discussion of more rigorous methods for developing and evaluating land-use plans for
Chinese city-regions.
Through a case study of Shanghai, the article also provides a vehicle to under-
stand how China’s planning system has responded to the national policy of trans-
forming the economy from centrally-planned to market-based. In doing so, it draws
upon a growing academic literature investigating Shanghai’s role within this national
transformation (Gaubatz, ; Han, ; Yusuf and Wu, ; Wu, ; Zhang,
). For example, Shanghai has been used as a case study to examine the role of the
state in economic development (Gaubatz, ; Han, ; Wu, ; Zhang, );
to investigate the concept of world-class cities (Wu, b; Yusuf and Wu, ); and
to demonstrate various dimensions of urban place-making (Olds, ; Wu, ;
Yu, ). Curiously, Shanghai’s ocial municipal plan and related urban planning
policies have been largely ignored in the above-cited studies. In fact, the authors
are unaware of any significant published analysis of Shanghai’s land-use plans. Yet
previous studies of Shanghai’s economic development, urban growth and govern-
ance raise possible land-use planning challenges that should be addressed within the
SMLUP. In other words, these studies were used in this paper to identify strengths and
weaknesses of the SMLUP as well as to refine previously developed plan-evaluation
methods and techniques (Alexander, ; Baer, ; Hoch, ).
The paper is divided into four sections. The first reviews plan-evaluation methods
and develops a suitable approach to evaluating the contents of the SMLUP. The
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Planning a mega-city’s future
second briefly reviews the legislative and administrative context of the creation and
adoption of comprehensive land-use plans in China. The third evaluates the SMLUP,
and the final section presents the conclusion.
Plan evaluation: approaches, methods and criteria
Researchers have paid specific attention to building a rigorous and sophisticated
methodology to evaluate plans (Alexander, ; Baer, ; Berke and Conroy, ;
Gordon, ; Hendrick, ; Hoch, ). Developing general criteria or methods
for judging a plan as either adequate or inadequate is a necessary requisite to the
intellectual and professional development of urban planning. This importance is
noted by planning theorists Alexander and Faludi, who state that: ‘if planning is to
have any credibility as a discipline or a profession, evaluation criteria must enable
a real judgement of planning eectiveness: good planning must be distinguishable
from bad’ (quoted in Baer, , ). Such meta-analytical evaluation criteria can
help to answer Baer’s question: ‘How would you know a good plan if you saw one?’
(p.). This question is particularly germane to Chinese professional planners, who
are struggling to gain greater professional legitimacy, while at the same time drafting
land-use plans to direct rapid urban growth and economic restructuring within a
period of great legal, institutional and political uncertainty (Yeh and Wu, ; Yu,
; Zhang, ).
The quality of a plan can be evaluated on the basis of the presence of pre-deter-
mined critical components (Brody, ; Gordon, ; Hendrick, ). Kaiser and
Godschalk () identified three core or critical characteristics of plan quality: a strong
factual basis, clearly articulated goals and appropriately directed policies. Brody ()
developed various indicators to measure each of the three core components identified
by Kaiser and Godschalk (). He used an ordinal scale to measure whether the
indicator was i) not identified or mentioned within the plan, ii) suggested or identified
but not detailed within the plan, or iii) fully detailed in the plan (Brody, , ).
Berke and Conroy () also undertook a quantitative evaluation of the compre-
hensive plans from thirty US cities. Their method involved identifying principles
that define the concept of sustainable development and then evaluating the extent to
which a plan’s policies contain these principles. A numeric score was awarded to each
principle based on the plan’s level of commitment to each principle. The scores for
each sustainability principle were summed with the higher scores indicating stronger
support for the concept of sustainable development by each plan. In one of the few
studies evaluating Chinese city plans, Ng () undertook a comparative assessment
of the sustainability principles contained with the ocial plans for the cities of Hong
Kong and Shenzhen, yet the development and advancement of plan-evaluation
techniques and methods as applied to Chinese cities was not addressed.
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
An approach to plan evaluation, as indicated by the above-cited studies, involves
a content analysis of municipal plans to search for and appraise specific terms and
concepts that are associated with plan quality. This article builds upon this plan-evalu-
ation methodology to examine the contents of the SMLUP. The key methodological
issue is to identify the critical components, indicators or core characteristics used to
measure and evaluate plan quality (Brody, ; Berke and Conroy, ; Gordon,
). Overall, our study applied a framework for evaluating plans based on a review
provided by Baer (), and subsequently revised and modified by Hoch () and
Hendrick ().
From a review of the literature, this article employs three dierent methods to
develop appropriate indicators and criteria to measure and evaluate the plan quality
of the SMLUP: i) mandates set by senior levels of government (Berke and French,
); ii) a review of published reports as well as direct observation of the economic
and environmental context of the Shanghai city-region; and iii) planning theories,
principles and concepts, such as sustainablity indicators to judge plan quality as used
by Ng () and Berke and Conroy (), as well as established frameworks and
criteria for evaluating a plan’s structure and organisation (Alexander, ; Baer, ;
Hendrick, ; Hoch, ). The methodology provides a rigorous approach to the
evaluation of Chinese land-use plans that has not been previously employed. This
appears to be just what Chinese planners require as they gain experience in plan-
making within a market economy (Yu, ; Yeh and Wu, ; Zhang, ).
Plan evaluation based on the Chinese system of urban and
land-use planning
Plan evaluation can be based, to a degree, on indicators derived from the mandate
developed by the senior levels of government that guide or regulate the content of
comprehensive plans (Berke and French, ). In most jurisdictions, there are many
dierent types of plans (Kaiser and Godschalk, ; Baer, ), and China is no
exception (Yeh and Wu, ). For example, some plans focus on transportation or
open spaces, while others govern specific areas of a city, such as an historic district.
Therefore, the evaluation and critique must be tailored to the type of plan examined
(Baer, ). This review and evaluation of the SMLUP is undertaken in light of
regulations that govern the creation of comprehensive land-use plans for Chinese
The Land Administration Act, first enacted in  and substantially amended in
 and , provides the legal framework for the purpose and content of land-use
plans adopted by all levels of government. In general, Article  of the Land Admin-
istration Law articulates the law’s main purpose:
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Planning a mega-city’s future
To cherish and give a rational use to the land, as well as to give a true protection to the
cultivated land are seen as a basic principle of land use in the country. The people’s
governments at all levels should manage to make an overall plan for the use of land to
strictly administer, protect and develop land resources and stop any illegal occupation
of land.
The Land Administration Act provides that land-use control is enforced through the
overall land-use plans drawn up by dierent levels of government, with the lower-level
plans conforming to the upper-level plans. For example, the total amount of land for
development in the overall plan for lower-level governments should be set within the
plans established by the governments at a higher level. In general, the act provides
for a national land-use plan that documents the total amount of arable land to be
protected. After the State Council approves the plan, every province, county, prefec-
ture/city and township is assigned quotas of arable land to protect. Moreover, any
arable land that is used for urban development must be replaced by an equal amount
of reclaimed or non-designated land; this is referred to as the process of ‘maintaining
a dynamic equilibrium’ (Lin and Ho, , ).
The Ministry of Land and Resources () issued regulations governing the
making and approval of comprehensive land-use plans. Specifically, land-use plans
drawn up by local governments are to be based on five principles:
. strictly protect farmland and control the occupation of agricultural land for
non-agricultural purposes;
. increase the utilisation rate of land;
. make an overall plan and arrangements to accommodate various uses of land
in various areas;
. protect and improve the ecological environment to ensure a sustainable use of
land; and
. keep a balance between cultivated land occupied and cultivated land developed
and reclaimed.
These regulations stress the need for land-use plans to ‘rationally structure land uses’
and employ a scientific and systematic approach to the analysis of long-term and
short-term land-use planning, with the specific creation of policies to maintain the
dynamic equilibrium between agricultural and development land (Ministry of Land
and Resources, ). The law also classifies land into three broad categories: agricul-
tural land, development land and non-designated land (Table ). Agricultural land
includes cultivated land, forested land and grassland, as well as areas for irrigation,
water conservation and aquaculture. Development land includes, for example, housing
in urban and rural areas, public utilities, industries and mining, communications,
tourism and military installations. It also includes any vacant land with development
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
potential that is not designated as agricultural land. Non-designated land simply refers
to land that is not classified as either development or agricultural land (Table ).
Recently, Chinese researchers have become more critical of comprehensive
municipal land-use plans. Zheng (), for example, has declared that land-use
plans are a ‘complete failure’ in their ability to maintain the existing supply of arable
land. Chinese scholars have asserted that a more inclusive and transparent process,
particularly through greater public participation in plan-making, is required to make
land-use plans more relevant within a market-based economy (Feng, ; Ng and
Xu, ; Wu, a; Zheng, ).
In China, there are three main plans prepared by three dierent government
Table 1 Shanghai’s Land Use Classification System
First class Second class Examples
Agricultural land
Cultivated land
Paddy fields
Other crops
Market gardens
Fruit gardens
Vegetable gardens
Wood lots
Tree nurseries
Ponds and lakes
Development land
Residential and industrial
Rural settlement areas Public works
Cities and towns
Industrial parks
Internal transportation
Green spaces
Rural roads
Irrigation works
Water power engineering
Reed lands
Source: Shanghai Municipal Land Use Plan, 1999, 58. See also Lin and Ho, 2003 for a further elaboration of
land-use categories.
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Planning a mega-city’s future
ministries/commissions that directly shape and guide the growth, development and
planning of Chinese cities (CIP, ; Han and Nishimura, ; Leung, b;
Hsing, ; Wu, a; Yeh and Wu, ). First, the economic and social plans
prepared by the National Development and Reform Commission; second, urban
(city) planning under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Construction; and third,
land-use planning undertaken by the Ministry of Land and Resources. Departments
and bureaux of each national agency represent the provincial and local governments.
Table  provides a summary of each planning institution. In brief, an application to
develop land must be approved by both the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry
of Land and Resources; this is commonly known as the ‘one report, two permits’
process (Ng and Xu, , ). This dual-planning system can also be illustrated as
follows: the Ministry of Land and Resources and its related local bureaux view the
city-region from the outside–in, i.e., from the perspective of preserving open space,
Sector Urban (city) planning Land-use planning Economic development
National level Ministry of Construction Ministry of Land and
National Development and
Reform Commission
Ordinary law City Planning Act Land Administration Act
Local level Shanghai Urban (City)
Planning Administrative
Municipal Housing, Land
and Resources Administration
Shanghai Municipal Develop-
ment and Reform Commission
Sample of
duties of local-
level agency
To organise the formulation
of overall urban planning,
zoning planning, detailed
planning of key areas and
other directive planning of
the municipal government; to
comprehensively coordinate
and balance other special
plans; to direct districts and
counties to formulate various
plans within the limits of their
To study and formulate the
medium-term and long-term
planning for the utilisa-
tion of land, planning of
mineral resources protection
and reasonable utilisation,
planning of geological
calamity prevention and
control, planning of real-estate
industry development; to be
responsible for formulating the
annual plans for the utilisation
and development of land and
geological exploration, and
organise its implementation.
To study and put forward
the municipality’s economic,
social and urban develop-
ment strategies; to organise
the drawing-up of the
municipality’s long- and
medium-term planning for
national economy and social
Plans Comprehensive Plan of
Shanghai, 1999–2020
Shanghai Municipal Land-Use
Plan, 1997–2010
Tenth Five-Year Plan, 2001–5;
Eleventh Five-Year Plan,
Table 2 Three planning systems within Chinese cities
Source: For similar tables, see CIP, 2003; Han and Nishimura, 2006.
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
especially agricultural land, surrounding the built-up areas; the Ministry of Construc-
tion and its related local bureaux view the city-region from the inside–out, i.e., from
the perspective of the urban core and its potential expansion.
Therefore, good working relationships between the Ministry of Land and
Resources, the Ministry of Construction and the National Development and Reform
Commission are clearly important to the proper and eective overall planning of
Chinese city-regions (Leung, b). Previous studies suggest a degree of competi-
tion and lack of coordination, particularly between the Ministries of Construction
and Land and Resources (Hsing, ; Kremzner, ; Leung, b). Hsing ()
describes the situation as follows:
The land management bureau produces annual land-use plans and allocates quotas
of farmland conversion accordingly. The urban planning bureau produces yet another
set of plans for urban expansion, with often-exaggerated growth projections and there-
fore high demand for farmland conversion. Both sets of plans are legally binding
[however] contradictions in their mandate often lead to inconsistencies in land-use
regulation …[that] create legal-administrative gaps in land regulation. (Hsing, ,
This multi-institutional structure governing urban and regional planning and the
development of Chinese cities has been largely ignored by some reports that focus
solely on city planning (Wei, ; Wu, ; Xu et al., ; Zhang, ) and by
others that focus mainly on land-use planning, particularly the transfer of land-use
rights and the conversion of arable land to urban uses (Ding, ; Li, ; Li, ).
Indeed, there are very few studies that examine the relationships between all three
planning systems in the management of urban growth and regional development
(Han and Nishimura, ). Therefore, it is important to compare and contrast the
planning policies and objectives within the SMLUP as prepared by the Shanghai
Municipal Housing, Land and Resource Administration Bureau with those contained
within the Shanghai Comprehensive Plan as prepared by the Shanghai Municipal
City Planning Administration Bureau. In theory, both documents should support
each other. However, the degree to which they contradict each other will lend support
to previous statements regarding the lack of coordination and cooperation between
the two ministries (Hsing, ).
The evaluation of the SMLUP was also based on a review of published studies
on various aspects of Shanghai’s urban development and planning: Huang (),
Ren et al. (), Walcott and Pannell (), Wei and Leung (), Wu (), Xu
et al. () and Yusuf and Wu (). This review was supplemented by the authors’
interviews with senior sta members of the Land-Use Administration Department of
the Shanghai Municipal Housing, Land and Resources Administration Bureau. This
department is responsible for creating and implementing Shanghai’s land-use plan
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Planning a mega-city’s future
(see Table ). The authors also undertook extensive field trips through the Shanghai
city-region, escorted by the Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Land and
Resources (MLR). These field trips included meetings with local (county/district)
bureaux of the MLR. This primary source of information helped to identify the
variables (or indicators) that can help to evaluate the quality of the SMLUP.
From the above methods, a list of  terms and concepts were identified (Table ).
Following Berke and Conroy () and Brody (), a qualitative assessment of each
term was evaluated in reference to the following scale.
Well-defined terms: planning concepts that are well-defined and discussed •
within the plan. Well-defined concepts were identified based on the frequency
of reference within the plan, detailed discussion/definition, and their strong
links to other concepts and the plan’s overall goals and objectives.
Moderately well-defined terms: planning concepts that are identified but •
only briefly discussed and do not figure prominently in the overall text. These
concepts also have weaker links to the other planning terms and issues identi-
fied within the SMLUP.
Mentioned terms: planning concepts that are mentioned, but are not defined •
or discussed in relation to the SMLUP.
Analysis and discussion of the SMLUP
The plan evaluation methods reviewed above are allied to the SMLUP and discussed
in the sections that follow. The evaluation first reviews the overall planning goals and
visions and then examines the specific land-use strategies and objectives.
Planning goals and visions
The SMLUP does not adequately address how broader national and international
social and economic forces will influence land-use planning in Shanghai, particu-
larly as noted by Zhang (). The SMLUP mentions many important planning
concepts/issues, such as transportation planning, economic restructuring, quality of
life and world-class cities, but none of these terms are fully developed as planning
goals. Moreover, the SMLUP is at odds with the attention given by researchers to the
place-making of Shanghai (Olds, ; Wu, ; Yusuf and Wu, ; Zheng, ).
Wu () notes that Shanghai is involved in a unique and exciting process of urban
restructuring, the result of policies put forward by local and national governments as
well as various global influences.
The SMLUP is also deficient with respect to maps and concept diagrams that
illustrate its various planning goals and objectives. The plan contains only two maps,
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
one of current land-use conditions and another of the forecasted allocation of various
land uses. Yet the hallmark of many regional land-use plans is the inclusion of visual
representations of planning concepts and visions, such as green belts, new towns,
industrial parks, etc. These visual aids are absent from the SMLUP. The lack of
visionary planning could be a reflection of the narrow goals and guidelines provided
by the Ministry of Land and Resources () in the creation of comprehensive
land-use plans, or of Chinese planners’ lack of experience of thinking in visionary
terms (Zhang, ).
SMLUP’s lack of vision seems less remarkable, however, when one considers the
Comprehensive Plan of Shanghai as well as the Five-Year Plans. One could argue that
both the Comprehensive Plan and the Five-Year Plan are more appropriate vehicles
for overall vision(s) of the Shanghai city-region, while the SMLUP simply frames
such visions within the development outline articulated by the following, more narrow
planning objectives:
protection (to control and protect agricultural land);•
adjustment (to adjust the land uses over time as appropriate);•
optimisation (to optimise the land-use structure in the central district of the •
city (i.e., using existing land more eciently), as well as maximise the use of
reclaimed land); and
equilibrium (to organise the development of reclaimed land to increase the •
proportion of the green space in the central city, the green belt around the city,
the forest in suburban and rural areas, and coastal lands).
Source: Shanghai Municipal Land-Use Plan, –.
The SMLUP loosely ties these planning objectives to the broader objective of
furthering Shanghai’s development as an international city or as an ecological city.
Well defined Moderately defined Mentioned, but not defined or
Agricultural land protection
Modernisation of agricultural
Land utilisation rates
Land supply and demand
Macro-scale land management
Green belts
New towns
Compact development
Industrial restructuring
Industrial parks
Rural planning (e.g., rural settle-
ment areas)
District/sub-regional planning
Transportation planning (e.g trans-
portation corridors)
Substandard housing
New economy (e.g. high
technology industries)
Quality of life
Ecologicalal planning
International/world-class city
Source: the authors.
Table 3 Evaluation of planning terms and concepts in the SMLUP
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Specifically, the concepts of ‘ecological city’, ‘world-class city’ and ‘international
centre’ are mentioned within the SMLUP, but are neither defined nor explicitly linked
to the above planning objectives (Table ). The SMLUP makes the implicit assump-
tion that the protection of arable land and the adjustment/optimisation of land use
supports world-class city objectives or those of achieving an ecological city.
More importantly, the planning vision articulated by the Comprehensive Plan
does not explicitly build upon the specific policies and objectives of the SMLUP,
particularly with respect to the supply and arrangement of agricultural land within
the Shanghai metropolitan area. Simply put, the Comprehensive Plan makes no refer-
ence to the SMLUP. The disconnection between the SMLUP and the Comprehen-
sive Plan comes into sharper focus when the specific land-use policies within each plan
are further compared and contrasted.
Land area and land uses
Overall, the SMLUP notes the inappropriate structure and existing distribution
of land uses in the Shanghai metropolitan area, but does not identify the reasons for
this condition. From the survey of the characteristics of each land use, the SMLUP
interprets the general planning challenges as follows:
Over  per cent of the land area in Shanghai has been put to a specific use, •
with very little vacant land available for development or agricultural uses.
Shanghai contains rich cultivated land, and a high percentage of its total land •
area is suitable for farming.
Reclaimed land along the river estuary and coast represents a possible land supply •
for future development. The SMLUP estimates that approximately  square
kilometres of reclaimed land are created annually by alluvial deposition.
The amount and proportion of forested land is very low. •
The plan notes that despite an integrated transportation network, the propor-•
tion of transportation land (i.e., land for road networks and public transit) is
quite limited. This situation is compounded by the age of the transportation
facilities, which restricts vehicular speed and accessibility. Shanghai also lacks
transportation corridors crossing residential areas and interchanges between
highways. These transportation deficiencies are seen as an obstacle to the
economic links between city and county, as well as an inecient use of time
and energy.
Over-concentrated industrial uses and high-density population in the central •
urban area exert an extreme pressure to expand the current urban area.
Dispersed suburban, industrial and rural residential development is resulting •
in inecient land-use patterns.
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
The above challenges noted by the SMLUP echo a vast body of research discussing
rapid urban economic growth with the Shanghai city-region (Han, ; Walcott and
Pannell, ; Wu, ; Yan, ). To address these challenges, the SMLUP outlines
six main land-use strategies. These are discussed below.
1: Rearrangement and redistribution of land uses
This is a strategy to increase the land quality and output by development. This
includes plans to rebuild the city’s poor and substandard housing, develop the central
district as a centre for high technology industries, redevelop brownfield sites, and
improve the amount of green space within the central city. This planning strategy
will be achieved, to a degree, by a balancing of land-use shifts (i.e., allocations and
re-allocations) between the various land-uses that are planned to occur between 
and  (see Table ). Long-term land-use projections are contained in the SMLUP
for each category of land use.
To begin with, the SMLUP calculates Shanghai’s total area to be km
, approxi-
mately km
larger than in the Comprehensive Plan (Table ). The dierence
is largely attributable to the inclusion of significantly more water area, particularly
Land classification
1996 2010 1996–2010
km2 % km2 % Change (km2)
Total area 7945.6 100 8345.6 100 400
Agricultural land
Cultivated land 3150.8 39.65 3150.8 37.75 0
Gardens 92.66 1.17 137.66 1.65 45
Forest 37.36 0.47 126.36 1.51 89
Grazing land 0 0 20 0.24 20
Waters 1885.3 23.73 1899.8 22.76 14.5
Sum 5166.1 65.02 5334.6 63.92 168.5
Development land
Residential and
Residential and
1057.1 13.3 1326.6 15.89 269.5
Special areas 26.17 0.33 29.17 0.35 3
Rural settlement 517.96 6.52 321.96 3.86 –196
Bywork1 329.59 4.15 289.59 3.47 -40
Total 1930.8 24.3 1966.8 23.57 36
Transportation 192.44 2.42 292.44 3.5 100
Irrigation works 171.43 2.16 171.93 2.06 0.5
Total 2294.6 28.88 2431.1 29.13 136.5
Unused land 484.86 6.1 579.86 6.95 95
Table 4 Land Use Projections, 1996 to 2010
1 ‘Bywork’ refers to commercial activity that is secondary to agricultural activity undertaken on adjacent land.
Source: Shanghai Municipal Land-Use Plan, 1999.
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Planning a mega-city’s future
around the mouth of the Yangtze River. However, if the Yangtze River area (noted
as an area of about km
) is removed, the remaining area is still almost km
larger than in the Comprehensive Plan. The dierences in area make it dicult to
compare, in relative terms, the amounts of land attributed to dierent land uses. In
particular, the SMLUP designates about two-thirds of Shanghai’s land use for agricul-
Table 5 Comparison of Shanghai’s Comprehensive Plan and the Overall Land-Use Plan
Planning concept Land-use plan Comprehensive (urban) plan Plan comparison
Total area 7945km2 6340km2 Significant difference
in reported total area.
Land-use plan includes
water area within Yangtze
River as part of Shanghai
Municipal Government’s
Planning period 1997–2010
(some goals to 2030)
1999–2020 Longer planning horizon for
comprehensive plan.
Projected popula-
14.2 million (permanent
population) by 2010
16 million by 2020
Overall planning
vision or goals
Four main goals:
1 Protection: to control and
protect agricultural land.
2) Adjustment: to adjust
the land uses over time as
3 Optimisation: to optimise
the land-use structure in the
central district of the city as
well as maximise the use of
reclaimed land.
4 Equilibrium: to organise
the development of
reclaimed land.
Five main parts:
1) Serving the whole country
and facing the world.
2) Emphasise the multi-level,
multi-centric and multi-axial
urban layout.
3) Integrate the urban spatial
arrangement with economic,
social and environmental
4) Human orientation and
environmental improvement.
5) Protecting cultural and
natural heritage.
SMLUP contains narrow
goals and objectives; few
links between the goals of
the two plans.
Document format Approximately 70 pages
containing 18 tables, 2
graphs, and 2 colour maps;
data tables well commu-
nicated; clear layout and
Approximately 40 pages;
numerous planning maps and
diagrams; no data tables.
More text and tables
contained in the SMLUP.
Overall tone
of planning
Highly technical Visionary
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
tural practices and the remaining third for development, while non-designated land
accounts for just over per cent of the municipal total (Table ). These proportions
are significantly dierent if the Yangtze River area is removed from the total area.
From  to , the SMLUP requires that the area of cultivated land remain
constant at km
. This involves advocating more modern agricultural patterns to
improve production, quality and eciency. For example, it is predicted that by ,
the area allocated to market gardening will increase by km
to a total of about
. The amount of forested land is also scheduled to increase by  per cent,
from km
in  to over km
in . Pasture is also set to increase from a negli-
gible amount in  to km
in  (Table ). Overall, according to the SMLUP,
agricultural land is set to increase by over per cent between  and , from
to over km
, respectively (see Table ).
Several planning objectives address the constant decrease in water resources,
particularly limited freshwater supplies. The plan aims to control the decline of
water areas and to improve the river network of the whole urban area; to protect the
infrastructure of waterway transportation, such as existing inner-city rivers; to widen
suburban rivers associated with flooding and construct irrigation works; to enhance
the social and economic value of rivers; and to increase the amount of freshwater
reserves in Shanghai. By the year , the water areas in Shanghai are planned to be
about km
, an increase of .km
since .
Within Shanghai, development land is planned to expand from just under km
in  to over km
in , an increase of almost per cent. The largest increase
is in transportation land: km
in , up from km
in . Residential and
industrial areas are planned to increase from km
to over km
, while rural
settlement areas are planned to decrease by almost km
. The shifts in residential/
industrial and rural land areas are in keeping with the principles noted below.
2: Centralising land use by the principle of ‘three concentrations’
The SMLUP notes the pressure for development in the suburbs, due to the decentrali-
sation of large industrial enterprises, redistribution of population, and the role of the
international airport and new seaport (located away from the urban core). However,
further suburban growth, even in land designated for development, will make it di-
cult to protect agricultural land at the city’s fringe. In response, the SMLUP proposes
to centralise future growth as much as possible by what is referred to as the ‘principle
of three concentrations’, which are as follows:
Concentrate rural settlement areas in order to counteract the dispersal of .
rural/farm residents and to achieve more compact development.
Concentrate industries in formal suburban industrial parks away from agricul-.
tural land.
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Planning a mega-city’s future
Consolidate cultivated land so that it is less fragmented. Large-scale and more .
modern agricultural practices are to be promoted, because these can increase
the output, workforce, economic benefit and market competitiveness of avail-
able arable land.
The largest expansion of development land is planned for the Pudong district, and to
a lesser extent the surrounding suburban districts of Minhang, Jiading and Baoshan
(Figure ). About two-thirds of development land allocated to the Pudong district is
for residential/industrial uses, and the remaining third is for transportation (see also
Zhao et al., ). In the surrounding counties and districts, however, a larger share of
the net increase in development land is being allocated for transportation. Virtually all
the increase in development land in Shanghai’s south-eastern counties of Songjiang,
Jinshan and Qingpu is for new transportation facilities. This reflects infrastructure
projects set up to improve the transportation connectivity within Shanghai and
between Shanghai and other destinations, particularly as set out for in the Compre-
hensive Plan. It appears that the surrounding suburban areas represent a more cost-
eective and easier landscape in which to install new transportation facilities.
3: Retention of agricultural land
The SMLUP contains strategies to retain the gross amount of agricultural land that
currently exists. Table notes, at the level of each district and county, where the
net increase in agricultural land and development land will be added within the
Shanghai municipal territory. The bulk of new agricultural land is being added to
Chongming Island, while much smaller increases are planned for the districts and
counties surrounding the city proper (Table ). The type of agricultural land added
to Chongming Island is mostly cultivated land, whereas forested land and market
gardens represent the main type of green space in the areas surrounding the city
proper. The one exception is Nanhui County, located along the city’s south-eastern
shore; about one-quarter of its green space is allocated for cultivated land. The large
amount of cultivated land allocated to Chongming Island and, to a lesser extent,
Nanhui County is the result of planned eorts to use reclaimed land for agricultural
purposes, discussed in greater detail below.
The reallocation of land between various uses, however, suggests a one-for-one
concept of agricultural and development land-use exchange, which has no basis in an
ecological approach to land-use planning. For instance, the quality or usefulness of
one hectare of land for agricultural uses is not the same as the quality or usefulness of
one hectare of land for urban purposes. Moreover, the SMLUP is essentially trading
o urban development within the Pudong District for the expansion of agricultural
land on Chongming Island (Figure ). This will certainly help in maintaining the
bottom line in terms of the total quantity of agricultural land in Shanghai. However,
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
Figure 1 Shanghai Administrative Areas
Note: The city proper represents the core urban area and includes the following districts: Changning,
Hongkou, Huangpu, Jin’an, Luwan, Putuo, Xuhui, Yangpu, and Zhabei
the arrangement of agricultural land, whether as gardens, forests or cultivated land,
is not adequately addressed. For example, retaining interconnected (rather than
fragmented) patches of urban forest is necessary for the maintenance of Shanghai’s
biodiversity, as noted by Zhang et al (). This is not addressed by the SMLUP.
4: Controlling the central city and establishing new towns
The SMLUP is concerned with the scale and pace of development in the central
city. New and existing towns are identified to absorb the city’s additional growth. Wu
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Planning a mega-city’s future
(, ) discusses the challenges of redeveloping Shanghai’s city, particularly in
light of its ‘extreme condition of high density, dilapidated housing [and] inadequate
infrastructure’. Wu further discusses the new urban district of Pudong and its capacity
to absorb both people who have relocated from the city and new population growth.
The SMLUP provides population projection targets for the city itself and for Pudong,
as well as other districts (Table ). Yet the relationship between the redevelopment
of existing urban areas and broader land-use planning, particularly in the adjacent
suburban and rural areas, is not informed by any set of policies within the SMLUP.
For example, preserving green space within a city-region is strongly related to how
urban land is developed and utilised. The structure, form and design of existing urban
areas will have an important impact on the conservation of green space. The SMLUP
contains only a passing reference to the development patterns that will occur within
the city proper.
The SMLUP barely contains any information on the new towns that will be created
to absorb new urban growth (Table ). Furthermore, the number and location of new
towns identified by the SMLUP is dierent from that identified by the Comprehen-
sive Plan (Figures  and ). Both plans identify smaller sub-centres, yet there appears
to be no agreement on the hierarchy or function of rural areas, suburban centres
and towns. More importantly, the two plans have dierent definitions of the central
Table 6 Dynamic balance sheet of gross area of farmland in each county (1997–2010)
Name of county/district Distribution of occupied
farmland area (km2)
during planning period
Increase in farmland
area (km2) during
planning period
Change in farmland (km2)
New Pudong District 63 7 –56
Baoshan District 33 13 –20
Minghang District 34 7 –27
Jiading District 32 13 –19
Jinshan District 9 20 +11
Fengxian County1 17 27 +10
Shongjiang District 9 20 +11
Nanhui County1 18 33 +15
Qingpu County1 10 20 +10
Chongming County 8 93 +85
Other 20 0 –20
Total 253 253 0
Note: *After the publication of the SMLUP, counties were converted to districts.
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
urban areas. Both plans identify a large central city as the dominant component of
Shanghai’s urban spatial structure (Figures and ). Yet the SMLUP calculates the
central area as having an area of about km
, which is less than half that noted
in the Comprehensive Plan. Furthermore, the SMLUP projects a declining popula-
tion for the central city, from . million in  to about . million in  (Table
). Since the relationship between central city and suburban growth is an important
and pressing planning challenge confronting the Shanghai municipal government,
it is obviously important that both the SMLUP and Comprehensive Plan share the
same geographic terms and concepts. To be fair, a number of academic reports also
use varying and diering definitions of Shanghai’s central urban area (Huang, ;
Walcott and Pannell, ; Wu, ).
The SMLUP does not capture, or at least underestimates, the interconnections and
impacts that various land uses have on each other. For instance, improving the connec-
tivity of an area through improved transportation will probably increase the pressure
to develop adjacent lands. As mentioned above, the net gain in transportation land in
Shanghai’s suburban areas might result in more related urban land uses, such as indus-
trial and residential. Furthermore, the broad land-use categories of agricultural land
and development land might be too general to promote eective land-use planning
policies and programmes. Whether the generalities of the SMLUP can be eective in
guiding development at a smaller (i.e., local) spatial scale is a question also addressed
by Yeh and Wu (, ) in their general review of urban planning in China.
‘Quality of life is mentioned as a planning goal, but it is not defined or explained
within the context of broader social changes, such as rural-to-urban migration or an
aging population. The SMLUP does not address social issues as they relate to land-use
Table 7 Population, land area and density for Shanghai
Permanent population
Residential and industrial
land area (km2)
Land area/person (m2)
1996 2010 1996 2010 1996 2010
Total 1054 1420 1057 1326 100 93
City proper (urban area) 634 430 279 279 44 65
Pudong District 150 240 190 250 127 107
Suburban districts 120 405 267 382 222 94
Counties 150 345 321 412 214 102
Source: Shanghai Municipal Land Use Plan, 1999, 6.
Note: The urban area includes the city proper, which constitutes the urbanised area made up of nine districts;
the New Pudong District; the suburban districts including Baoshan, Minhang and Jiading; and the counties
including Chongming, FengXian, Jinshan, Nanhui, Quingpu and Songjiang (see Figure 1). After the publication
of the SMLUP, all the counties, with the exception of Chongming, were converted to districts.
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Planning a mega-city’s future
Figure 2 Shanghai Municipal Land-Use Plan, 1999–2010
Note: simplified version redrawn by authors.
planning. For example, it does not deal with the increasing floating population (e.g.,
migrants from the countryside), which has been identified as a key challenge facing
Chinese planners (Yeh and Wu, ; Yu, ; Zhang, ). The SMLUP does
provide projections of the number of floating residents likely to be living in Shanghai
in , but does not consider the impacts on land-use planning.
5: Reclaimed land
Shanghai lies on the Yangtze River’s estuary, and its coastal areas are continually
expanding as a result of silt, sand and mud deposited by the Yangtze. Thus, Shanghai
receives an annual land dividend that is earmarked for the promotion and expansion
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
of agricultural and development land within the city: a planned increase of km
between  and  (Table ). Both reclaimed land and coastal areas are identified
as important for increasing the land area of Shanghai for future development. The
development of reclaimed land and coastal areas is seen to have important objectives
related to: (i) an increase in the overall land area of Shanghai; (ii) an increase in the
cultivated area; (iii) development that can be achieved from coastal projects, such as
the construction of harbours intended for Shanghai’s steel and chemical industries;
and (iv) potential areas for conservation, such as nature reserves in which protection
for migratory birds can be achieved.
The balance between urban economic land use and the preservation of agricultural
Figure 3 Comprehensive Plan of Shanghai Metro Region, 1999–2020
Note: simplified version redrawn by authors.
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Planning a mega-city’s future
land is based almost entirely on the reallocation of reclaimed land (see Table ). This
might be a satisfactory short-term solution, but it remains to be seen whether it can be
sustained as a long-term planning strategy, particularly in light of the Three Gorges
Dam and its impact on the morphology of the Yangtze River. Moreover, there will
certainly be ongoing economic pressures to utilise reclaimed land for urban rather
than agricultural purposes. This also raises the question of the spatial scale at which
reclaimed land can be used to balance agricultural land and urban economic land uses.
In the specific case of Shanghai, reclaimed land results from alluvial deposits that, by
definition, must result in a net loss of land at points upriver. In other words, Shanghai’s
land gain is perhaps the result of land lost by other municipalities or regions. Thus,
using reclaimed land for green space on a larger spatial scale, i.e., as a regional or
national strategy, will not produce the same results as presented in the SMLUP.
The SMLUP also fails to provide specific policy direction to guide the protection
Table 8 Comparison of land-use concepts: Shanghai’s Comprehensive Plan and the
Overall Land-Use Plan
Planning concept Land-use plan Comprehensive (urban) plan Plan comparison
Green spaces Approximately 50% of land
area reserved for agricultural
uses; gardens and forest
account for less than 2%; no
identification of a green belt;
limited definitions of green
35% of land area planned
as ‘greenery’, including
green belt, green wedge,
roadside greenery, woods
and landscaped open
space. Does not include
agricultural land.
No consistent land-use
designations to identify green
Central areas Identifies ‘large central city’
on map and ‘city proper’ in
text; ‘city proper’ land area is
279km2 and has a planned
population of 4 million by
Identifies large central city;
total land area of 600km2
with a planned population of
8 million.
Size and shape of central
(urban) city varies between
plans; population estimates
and projects are different.
New towns 9 new towns identified. No
population or land area data
11 new towns identified.
Planned population of
between 200,000 and
300,000 each.
Two additional new towns
identified in the Urban
Plan; general agreement on
location of eight new towns.
Smaller (sub-)
100+ central towns identi-
22 central rural towns identi-
fied on map; 80 ordinary
rural towns created with
administrative functions.
No agreement on the
hierarchy and function of
rural/suburban centres/
Plan maps identify 6 different
land uses; urban land uses
subdivided into towns and
industrial areas.
Plan identifies 10 unique
land uses; no explicit identifi-
cation of cultivated land.
Basic land-use categories not
used consistently between the
two plans.
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John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
and ecological security of reclaimed land. In particular, it did not inform a recent
study outlining an integrated coastal zone management framework for Shanghai (Shia
et al., ). This study notes that coastal management is currently poorly coordinated
and suering from multiple and overlapping government jurisdictions. Moreover, the
special nature of Chongming Island and its potential to both absorb urban growth
and preserve an area of considerable ecological value lacks sucient policy attention
within the SMLUP (see also Yuan et al., ).
6: Rearranging existing land
The SMLUP aims at rearranging existing land and enlarging the eective cultivated
land area. Table notes the number of adequately defined (as well as inadequately
defined) planning terms and concepts within the SMLUP. The group of well-defined
planning concepts is related to the preservation of agricultural land within Shanghai.
This reveals the plans strength and commitment to deal with the management and
allocation of land uses within the city, but also reveals its rather technocratic perspective.
Terms that are only moderately defined include planning concepts such as ‘compact
development’ and ‘rural planning’, which could either directly or indirectly support
the goals and objectives of the well-defined terms. Therefore, it is unfortunate that
the plan does not make better use of ideas such as new town development, green
belts, industrial parks and so on, as these could help to preserve agricultural land and
enhance urban economic development.
The SMLUP does not suciently develop or adequately define concepts such
as ‘green belts’, ‘green corridors’ or ‘green ways’ and, therefore, will probably not
provide adequate policy guidance for these important themes. Such concepts have
received extensive research and policy attention in other jurisdictions, particularly in
Europe and North America (Kuhn, ; Li et al., ; Taylor et al., ; Searns,
). The SMLUP’s allocation and redistribution of agricultural land will, as noted
above, account for two-thirds of Shanghai’s total area, and almost half of its land
area. However, the Comprehensive Plan notes that per cent of the total area should
be green space. Cultivated land does not appear to be an important element in the
Comprehensive Plan’s green zone (Table ). Terms and concepts related to green
space (green belts, greenery, gardens, forests, etc.) are used dierently by the Compre-
hensive Plan and the SMLUP (Table ). It may be necessary for Chinese planners to
confront some of the same questions raised in the planning of green ways, belts or
corridors within the European and North American context: for example, what is the
primary purpose of the green belt (urban containment, environmental preservation
or enhancing ecological connectivity)? What is the most appropriate morphology of
the green belt (location, length, area)? Which administrative frameworks and land-use
controls will be used to manage the green belt (special commissions or a department)?
How will the green belt be monitored and protected?
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Planning a mega-city’s future
Discussion and conclusions
In creating the SMLUP, the Shanghai municipal government has taken an important
first step in preparing a long-range planning strategy for the use and management of
its land resources. The SMLUP will probably provide an important policy framework
to deal with the competing challenges of urban economic expansion and the preserva-
tion and enhancement of agricultural land. The SMLUP’s planning goals, objectives
and detailed land-use projections are laudable, but are also subject to a number of
challenges and limitations, as indicated in this article.
The SMLUP is a comprehensive technical document that lays the foundations
for land-use planning in this mega-city. Its shortcomings can be traced to the regula-
tions and directives set by the Ministry of Land and Resources () to guide the
creation of comprehensive land-use plans. The framework for creating such plans
is narrowly conceived in terms of technical land-use allocations and balancing the
supply of agricultural and development land. The state’s national goal to preserve a
dynamic equilibrium between agricultural and development land is a double-edged
sword. On the one hand, it focuses attention on the preservation of a critical and
scarce national resource (arable land). On the other hand, it has narrowed the focus
of local land-use planners.
This article has noted that the Comprehensive Plan of Shanghai provides a
broad and holistic planning vision and mission statement, while the SMLUP is a
largely technical document. To gain the benefits of both plans, greater coordination
is required between the local bureaux of the Ministry of Land and Resources and the
Ministry of Construction. Collaboration could start with the adoption of common
planning terms, concepts, and land-use categories and designations. This would help
to link broader planning visions to technical goals and objectives. Furthermore, both
plans should reference each other to ensure that they work in tandem to achieve the
collective goal of making Shanghai a better place. Future research should investigate
the plan-making process with an emphasis on how the dierent bureaux are involved
in negotiating and/or contributing to the development or revision of either a compre-
hensive (urban) plan or land-use plan (Wu, a; Wu and Zhang, ).
The SMLUP is the product of a planning profession that is just beginning to
grapple with new ways to plan and build communities, particularly within a market
economy. Hopefully, planning concepts that are only moderately defined or barely
mentioned in current land-use plans will, over time, become more relevant and signifi-
cant to the planning and development of Chinese city-regions. On this note, recent
research has recommended better training of city planners to deal with the uncertain-
ties of planning in a market economy (Wu, ; a; Zhang, ). This recom-
mendation should also extend to land-use planners within the Ministry of Land and
TPR79_2-3_07_Meligrana.indd 289 9/9/08 10:51:58
John Meligrana, Wenwei Ren, Zhiyao Zhang and Bruce Anderson
Future longitudinal studies of the content of Chinese land-use plans might facilitate
policy learning and a more adaptive management framework suitable to the dynamic
economic and environmental context of Chinese cities (see, for example, Brody, ).
A longitudinal analysis of the content of Chinese plans could also reveal much about
how the planning profession in China has evolved. In addition to comparisons over
time, a comparative evaluation of plans from several cities might also reveal varia-
tions in the application of planning principles across China. A systematic evaluation
of Chinese land-use plans could reveal reoccurring weaknesses and shortcomings
that can be addressed by improved regulations and policies governing the drafting or
revising of land-use plans.
Currently, Chinese land-use plans are deemed good if they articulate apparently
appropriate policies for balancing agricultural and development land within the speci-
fied planning period. A broader framework for evaluating the quality of land-use
plans is required. This article has employed a plan evaluation framework previously
developed within the literature (Baer, ; Hoch, ; Brody, ). The plan evalu-
ation framework proved useful in uncovering the weaknesses and strengths of the
SMLUP. Chinese land-use planners, however, need a tool to evaluate various policies
and courses of action during the plan-making process (Baer, , ). Furthermore,
identifying and evaluating the use of key planning concepts and terms within the
SMLUP would force land-use planners to take a broader, more holistic approach to
policy directions as Shanghai continues to rapidly emerge as a mega-city.
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The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of the Ministry of Lands and Resources
(Beijing Oce) and the Land-Use Administration Department of the Shanghai Municipal
Housing, Land and Resources Administration Bureau in the preparation of this article. The
authors are grateful to Hok-Lin Leung, Fulong Wu and three anonymous reviewers for their
informative critique of earlier versions of this paper. Translations were provided by two
graduate students: Jie Wei and Cha (Ivy) Wong. The article was funded by a standard research
grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
TPR79_2-3_07_Meligrana.indd 293 9/9/08 10:51:58
... Scholars apply different Western theories including local state corporatism, developmental state, entrepreneurship city, and growth coalition to explain the transition of urban governance and planning in Chinese cities (Oi, 1995;Wu, 2002;Xu & Yeh, 2005;Zhu, 1999). Researchers also debate the influences of the changing local political environments on plan making and more recently, implementation (Meligrana, Ren, Zhang, & Anderson, 2008;Ng & Tang, 2004;Tian & Shen, 2011;Wei, 2012). Neoliberal policies such as strategic planning and intercity collaboration were advocated (Wu, 2010). ...
... This process is influenced by "crossing the river by feeling the stones", which can lead to overcautious, incremental, and piecemeal advances in urban planning practices. Last, the reality of urban development also questions the effectiveness of urban planning and points out the insufficient emphasis placed on the assessment and implementation of plans in China (Meligrana et al., 2008;Tian & Shen, 2011). Today, there is often a "back to the future" element, in which Chinese planners seek to adapt global concepts to Chinese situations; hence hybridicity is now an important feature of contemporary Chinese planning. ...
... The dynamic contexts of urban planning force revisions between different rounds of planning. The lack of holistic assessment of the previous plans also results in the waste of resource and inefficiency in making plans (Meligrana et al., 2008;Tian & Shen, 2011). Under globalization, Chinese planners do benefit from new planning practices and concepts developed in Western economies (McCann, 2011), although these experiences are selective and confined to China's most globalizing cities. ...
Cities are centers of economic, social, and political change, and urban planning is a process responding to and guiding urban change and development. In the Maoist era and under the influence of socialist ideology, China limited urbanization while promoting industrialization, and urban planning served as an instrument for socialist construction. Since the reform of the late 1970s, Chinese cities have experienced unprecedented growth and restructuring. However, the gradualist, exploratory reform - exemplified by Deng Xiaoping's slogan "crossing the river by feeling the stones" - makes Chinese cities constantly change without clear directions for future development. This paper uses Beijing as a case study to analyze changing institutional and global contexts underlying the transformation of Chinese cities, and planner's responses and dilemmas in making plans and implementing them. We found that market reforms, rapid growth, and dramatic change make urban master plans quickly out of date, forcing Chinese planners to frequently revise these master plans. We also found that the content of urban master planning in China has broadened from physical planning, and Chinese planning has adapted to market reform through utilizing concepts of visioning, flexibility, and governance. Increasingly what we call a "hybrid" form of planning is arising in which global concepts and Chinese ideas interweave in order to direct the shape and form of the Chinese metropolis.
... Moreover, this article has incorporated the insights from Chinese urban planning studies. Meligrana et al. (2008) examine mandates set by senior levels of government and review published reports and related observations, as well as planning theories in research to assess Shanghai's master plan. Furthermore, they develop key indicators for plan quality evaluation, including visual representations of planning concepts and vision statements. ...
... Furthermore, they develop key indicators for plan quality evaluation, including visual representations of planning concepts and vision statements. The primary merit of the Comprehensive Plan of Shanghai is found to be its holistic vision and vision statement (Meligrana et al. 2008). Chen (2009) explores the impact of the Chinese government's policies on urban planning evaluation, including monitoring devices and plan evaluation practices with a focus on spatial planning. ...
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This paper proposes a theoretical framework for public art plan quality evaluation and critically examines its limitations. The argument is twofold. First, the proposed framework embodies a rational planning approach to public art planning, which caters to both traditional and utilitarian types of public art, and advocates creating an environment conducive to social practice art. This framework largely applies to countries with strong rational planning systems like China. Second, while China’s urban sculpture planning system possesses strengths in terms of policies, it is weak when it comes to addressing public participation, implementation, and interorganizational coordination. That said, the plans as realized are highly influenced by individual planners and some of them excel in these areas of broader systemic weakness.
... As an important economic, transportation, technology, financial, and shipping center in China, Shanghai is one of the world's largest metropolitan areas [40]. Compared to other metropolitan areas in the world, the Shanghai metropolitan area, on the one hand, is located on an impact plain, which is similar to many metropolitan areas, such as Tokyo, New York, and Jakarta [41]. ...
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Ecological restoration has become an important tool for mitigating and adapting to environmental degradation caused by global urbanization. However, current research has focused on single indicators and qualitative analysis, meaning that ecological restoration has not been effectively and comprehensively addressed. This study constructed a spatial priority identification system for ecological restoration, with landscape area, landscape structure and landscape function as the core indicators. The system has wide adaptability. In this work, the spatial classification of ecological degradation was performed by overlay analysis. The results showed the following: (1) In the Shanghai metropolitan area, the landscape quality showed a trend of degradation, with built-up areas encroaching on forests and cropland. (2) Ecological degradation in the suburbs was more severe than that in the urban center. Forests had the highest landscape area indicator (LAI) stability. Significant degradation of landscape structure indicators (LSIs) occurred when built-up area and cropland were transformed into forests. (3) Different types of ecological restoration had significant spatial distribution patterns. Through this identification system, this study aimed to help plan-ners/managers of ecological restoration to recognize the changing patterns of regional landscape quality and its relationship with land cover. It ultimately provides a basis for the formulation of regional ecological objectives and spatial strategies.
... RS techniques generated large amounts of data regarding earth surface, and GIS techniques provided an integrated platform to spatially analyze, model and map environmental change [5]. Quick automatic mapping played a valuable role in urban planning, policy making, and environmental protection [6,7]. Previous studies focused on unsupervised and supervised classification methods, e.g., k-means, decision tree, changed vector analysis (CVA), and stochastic process [8][9][10]. ...
... Some scholars argued that land use plan is completely useless in maintaining the existing farmland, because it failed in development control upon urban sprawl, and the plan is manipulated by local government (Tian 2013;Tian and Ma 2009;Wang 2009). While, the others complained that the transparent process is needed to adapt to the market-based economy, when Chinese government allocates various land quotas through its administrative hierarchy (Meligrana et al. 2008;Wang 2009). ...
The chapter lays the theoretical and analytical foundations for this research. After the introduction about how cities and regions are currently understood both from the analytical perspective and policy agendas in spatial development, this chapter provides a review of the existing literature on spatial planning and governance at the urban and regional scale.
... Indeed, by establishing a system of urban planning at the municipal level, China has achieved great success (also in international comparison) in constructing urban infrastructure while eliminating urban slums under conditions of rapid urban expansion and massive growth in the urban population [19,20]. Yet, the integration of evaluation methods has not been fully implemented in China's urban planning process [13,[21][22][23]. Previously, urban planning in China has mainly focused on the formulation of urban development goals and the introduction of blueprints for development. ...
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This study proposes a measure to evaluate the urban land use plan with transit accessibility, more specifically, the spatial accessibility of transit stations. The spatial accessibility of transit stations is measured with the number of effective reachable grids, and the influence of transfer on reduction in spatial accessibility is considered. A geographically weighted regression model is used to determine the correlation between transit accessibility and urban land use characteristics. Moreover, the methodology is applied to Xiamen, China and the corresponding results demonstrate the usefulness and effectiveness of the proposed methodology. Researchers can adopt the proposed approach to evaluate urban land use plan, particularly in transit-dominated and car-lite contexts.
Urban Theory and the Urban Experience brings together classic and contemporary approaches to urban research in order to reveal the intellectual origins of urban studies and the often unacknowledged debt that empirical and theoretical perspectives on the city owe one another. From the foundations of modern urban theory in the work of Weber, Simmel, Benjamin and Lefebbvre to the writings of contemporary urban theorists such as David Harvey and Manuel Castells and the Los Angeles school of urbanism, Urban Theory and the Urban Experience traces the key developments in the idea of the city over more than a century. Individual chapters explore investigative studies of the great metropolis from Charles Booth to the contemporary urban research of William J. Wilson, along with alternative approaches to the industrial city, ranging from the Garden City Movement to 'the new urbanism'. The volume also considers the impact of new information and communication technologies, and the growing trend towards disaggregated urban networks, all of which raise important questions about viability and physical and social identity of the conventional townscape. Urban Theory and the Urban Experience concludes with a rallying cry for a more holistic and integrated approach to the urban question in theory and in practice if the rich potent. For the benefit of students and tutors, frequent question points encourage exploration of key themes, and annotated further readings provide follow-up sources for the issues raised in each chapter. The book will be of interest to students, scholars, practitioners and all those who wish to learn more about why the urban has become the dominant social, economic and cultural form of the twenty-first century.
This paper illustrates almost twenty years (1986~2007) of Land use/land cover change (LULCC) in Qingpu-one district of Shanghai. Qingpu District is an area of Upper Huangpu Catchment for fresh water supply with considerable ecological value, but it is also experiencing urban sprawl from development. To reveal the trends underlie LULCC, we propose a novel procedure to quantify different land use/land covers and implement it in the case study. In this procedure, we first collect historical remote-sensing data and co-registered or corrected them to the same spatial resolution and radioactive level. Based upon preliminary interpretation or investigation, land use/land cover types in study area can be included in 5 categories, i.e. Water, Agricultural Land, Urban or Built-up Land, Forest Land, and Barren Land or others. Moreover, data is clipped via boundary of study area for reducing computation load, followed by FPCR-ISODATA classification to divide the data into k groups (k>the number of land types). After postprocessing, e.g., merge the same connoted subgroups and correct misclassified units accompany with validation and verification, the detailed land use/land cover results can be achieved accurately. The quantitative and regression analysis indicate that during the past twenty years the area of agricultural land of Qingpu decreased coupled with urban or built-up area increased linearly. The water area had the minimum change during the decades. Forests had the smallest average proportion (9.6%) of the total area. It occupied so small proportion of land that we can only find points of it in the maps. Barren land can be an indicator for monitoring uncompleted redevelopment or transition of land.
As an expression of the state-directed vision for local urban development, China’s master plans are required by the state to provide effective guidance for local spatial land use and socioeconomic development. Using an institutionalist analytical framework, this paper examines China’s master plan mechanism, investigates the discrepancy between master plans and the reality of urban development, and explores obstacles to the implementation of master plans and reasons for the reality of urban development. By employing a case study research strategy, focused upon Nanjing, the study concludes that the master plan has been an approach for local state to realize its interests in economic growth and city competitiveness; that for the best possible pro-growth coalitions, compromises and tradeoffs are reached between central government, local state and various agents in plan making and implementation; that local state now has to handle a diverse set of heterogeneous agents with plural interests at lower levels in the planning process; and that the practice of plan adjustment for alleviating the tension between planning and market forces, and for facilitating effective pro-growth partnerships between local state and other economic agents, argues for more inclusive approaches than what conventional master plans have taken.
In China, there is no evidence of rampant corruption in the planning process, but neither are there any robust institutions and structures to prevent that from happening. Planning administration involves sorting out equally good but conflicting planning principles. In fact, strong political personalities often produce sensible solutions while breaking established procedures. The politics of land is made more complex by the fact that urban planning and land use planning are administered by two different, competing bureaucracies. China's experiment with a socialist market economy, and the tension between personality and process in its planning functions, continues to evolve. Because of its size, how China resolves this tension will have consequences for us all.
The plans for Ottawa and Canberra were implemented in the 1950s and 1960s after a half century of frustration and delays. This paper compares the post-war plans for the two cities, and considers the political, financial and urban design factors that led to the implementation breakthroughs. The federal governments of Canada and Australia made repeated attempts to plan and develop their capitals over the past century. The planning histories of Ottawa-Hull and Canberra therefore make good case studies for considering the implementation of plans. The research method for the paper is a comparative case analysis, using extensive archival research and pattern-matching. The paper considers ten examples from the two cities. It concludes that effective implementation requires political support, long-term financing, planning skills, administrative expertise and a powerful champion.
The introduction of administrative and economic reforms in China has led to the use of market mechanisms in allocating urban land resources. This situation has resulted in a diversified land-development process in Chinese cities. Governments and planners then come under pressure to review the development policies and planning instruments in order to guide effectively the new land-development process. However, for various reasons, land-use planners in China face many difficulties in development control. First, the role of the professional planner is challenged by the government's interference in the land market and in planning affairs. Second, poorly-institutionalised planning administration undermines the role of development-control mechanisms. Furthermore, because laws and regulations are not fully respected, the development control process may be used as a vehicle by those in power to achieve their own aims. How far is this the case in practice? The paper addresses this issue using the example of Guangzhou, and argues that the Chinese planning system and land market need to be reformed, and legal concepts strengthened.
The opening of China's urban land market has seen a growing interest internally and internationally in land and real estate development. Due to the monopolized ownership of land, this interest brings in substantial income for the government. Because of this new source of income, governments at various levels are able to finance urban development to different extents. This paper examines the outcomes of the reform that created a market mechanism for urban land and real estate, and the correlation of urban developments with the land and real estate market.
China's economic reform is a gradual and exploratory process, which has stimulated the dramatic growth and restructuring of the Chinese cities, but has also made urban master plans quickly outdated and unable to function effectively to guide the development of cities. Through a case study of Hangzhou, the paper argues that the gradual and exploratory nature of China's reform is incompatible with the nature of the urban master plan, which requires a blueprint and the ability to project the future. Rather than guiding development and policies, urban master plans often lag behind reforms initiated at the national and local levels, and have to be revised constantly to follow the new direction of the reforms. Consequently, Chinese cities are in chaos, and much development and new construction lacks proper planning guidance. The paper argues that problems with Chinese cities and planning are related to the incompatible relationship between the nature of urban planning and that of transitional institutions. This dilemma was intensified by the disruption of planning during the Cultural Revolution, problems with planning education, and the slowness in reforming planning systems in China. The analysis highlights the broad transitional contexts underlying urban planning, and the responses of planers to growth and change. The paper also discusses the need for further reform of Chinese institutions and planning systems.
The planning profession has developed relatively few criteria for evaluating the quality of general plans. Evaluation criteria have become more important with the increasing number of states that mandate general plans. Several kinds of plan evaluation exist, and these are distinguished and described before a review of different concepts of plans as a source of the appropriate criteria to evaluate them. A list of suggested criteria for plan evaluation during plan preparation is then presented, to be used to make the plan better. Appropriate criteria for a plan are not easy to devise, and the postmodern critique of planning makes this task more difficult still. These issues are explored as well.
This paper examines urbanisation process in China as it has been closely associated with the transition. The main features of Chinese transition and their influence to the Chinese urban planning system and practice in terms of social and economic development were discussed. It is clear from analysis that although economic development in China has been rapid during last decades, there are several serious problems, particularly those in environment, sustainable development, and social equality. All these creates challenges for urban planning. The ways forward of Chinese urban planning is raised within the present social and economic context in China.