China embarks on sustainable urban planning

Is China seriously getting serious about climate change and sustainability?

China embarks on sustainable urban planning

Australian governments should take note. China’s recently released Guidelines for Strengthening Urban Planning and Development show that even in one of the toughest urban challenges on the planet, there is a plan to improve things.

Thanks to ULI Asia (see the original text here), we now have a translation that reads pretty much as a standard that can be applied anywhere, presented here:

1. Improve Urban Planning Work

  • Improve legal frameworks for urban planning: Ensure that the relevant government level completes the master urban planning work.
  • Encourage public participation.
  • Draw an urban growth boundary based on ecological carrying capacity. Focus on redevelopment, prioritise protection of agricultural land resources, and promote compact development. Strengthen the coordination of master planning and land-use planning – for cities with the right conditions, combine the urban planning and land-use management departments.
  • Improve implementation of urban planning: There must be strict processes for urban planning. City governments should report consistently to the appropriate level of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on urban plans, any changes to the master plan must be approved. The regulatory plan is the basis of implementation, any changes or violations of the regulatory plan must be disclosed to the public. The government should use remote satellite sensing to locate buildings that violate existing urban planning policies.
  • Improve public involvement, use the power of experts and the public, and improve public monitoring of the planning process.
  • Use five years to evaluate any violations and curb illegal new development.

2. Cultivate City Character

  • Improve urban design standards – Focus on city character, local characteristics, cultural characteristics. Encourage urban design studies in universities to cultivate urban design talent.
  • Improve architectural design management – Focus on a building’s function, energy efficiency, water efficiency, materials efficiency and prevent biased focus on a building’s outer appearance
  • Protect historical and cultural character – Implement urban re-generation and organic re-development, fix management and environmental problems in older developments.
  • Preserve and improve old buildings, retrofit and use old buildings, revitalise the function and liveability of older urban areas. Protect historical buildings and artifacts. Improve cultural continuity.

3. Improve Urban Architecture Quality

  • Improve responsibility on engineering quality: improve government monitoring of engineering processes.
  • Improve public safety.
  • Develop new construction techniques – cut down on waste and pollution, shorten construction time and improve construction quality. Within 10 years, ensure that 30 per cent of buildings constructed are pre-fabricated.

4. Expand energy efficiency in cities

  • Promote building energy efficiency technology.
  • Implement urban energy efficiency: using pilots as a basis, intensify project goals, promote combined heat and power at the district level, energy efficiency for government buildings, green lighting and other energy efficient technologies. Increase heat re-use technology, electricity metering. New buildings must all have household meters for heating.

5. Improve Public Services in Cities

  • Improve shantytowns in urban areas, improve urban villages in urban areas.
  • Integrate underground pipe networks.
  • Optimise road networks – New residential complexes must follow a “block system” and gated communities will no longer be allowed. Already completed gated communities must be gradually opened up so that road networks can be opened up. Implement “narrow roads, dense road network” – build fast roads, primary and secondary road networks. Fix “broken roads” so that the street networks are complete. By 2020, the road density in cities should be 8 km/square kilometre, and the road surface area should be 15 per cent. Use one way roads to organise traffic. Improve biking and walking networks, appropriately allocate parking, encourage public participation.
  • Optimise development of public transit – Increase the number of public transit stations and develop a diverse mix of transit options – light rail, buses, subways, etc. By 2020, large and mega-cities should have public transit mode share of 40 per cent, big cities should have 30 per cent, and small and medium sized cities should have a public transit mode share of 20 per cent or more. Expand public transit-only lanes, inner and outer-city connection by transit. Ensure that in urban centres, everyone is within 500 meters of public transit.
  • Improve public amenities – Construct schools, supermarkets, retirement centres, hospitals, and cultural centres (art, museums, science). Plan and construct public squares, parks, pedestrian paths and public activity spaces to encourage cultural and physical activities and community. Allow residents to have public green space nearby.
  • Find and re-allocate illegally occupied public space. Fulfill the goals of new-type urbanisation to ensure people have housing, education, healthcare, etc.
  • Ensure public safety in cities.

6. Create livable environments in cities

  • Expand Sponge City development.
  • Revitalise natural environments in urban areas.
  • Advance air and water quality restoration. By 2020, prefecture-level and above cities should treat 100 per cent of wastewater, and water-scarce cities should have water re-use of up to 20 per cent.
  • Strengthen integrated waste management. By 2020, achieve waste re-use of over 35 per cent.
  • Within five years, set up a food waste and building waste recycling and re-use system.

7. Innovate on urban regulatory methods

  • Advance rule by law in cities.
  • Reform the management system for cities.
  • Improve urban management systems.
  • Promote smart management in cities – by 2020, construct a set of new and smart cities.
  • Improve civic awareness and education.

8. Improve leadership

  • Strengthen organisational coordination.
  • Ensure follow-through on responsibilities.

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