Category Archives: Garden Cities

Developing new towns the Chinese way

This post Courtesy of the RTPI International Blog

In China, new town development emerged as a key urban development strategy at the beginning of the 21st century, particularly in mega-cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. They are large in scale, comprehensively planned in land use profile and urban functions, and showed city governments’ great enthusiasm to create distinctive and attractive urban landscapes to enhance local competitiveness.

New Town In Shanghai 2

Urban Investment & Development Corporations

In China, local government-affiliated Urban Investment and Development Corporations (UIDCs) play an essential part in propelling the new town boom. The name of UIDCs remind people of the Urban Development Corporations (UDCs) in the UK, but key differences exist.

The British UDCs were rooted within the neoliberal trends between the late 1970s and early 1980s, acting as agents to facilitate market-led regeneration by utilizing private capital. In contrast, the Chinese UIDCs were embedded in the contexts of China’s fiscal recentralization and land commodification in the 1990s.

Different from the UK, the Chinese local governments establish UIDCs to undertake primary land development and land conveyance on their behalf, and/or act as local financing arms to provide local governments a corporate platform to borrow from the market, thus the word investment is incorporated in their names.

British UDCs were rooted within the neoliberal trends between the late 1970s and early 1980s,.. while Chinese UIDCs were embedded in the contexts of China’s fiscal recentralization and land commodification in the 1990s.

UIDCs in China can be seen as government-backed, place-specific and project-based intermediary agent between the state and the market. They not merely act as institutions delivering large-scale urban (re)development projects, but also as prominent actors to enact and promote urban policy and landscape change and enable loyal allies of the local government to participate and influence the market through directing investment into selected locations.

Financially, UIDCs do not rely on private funding but on state endorsement of funding, particularly in the forms of land and credit. They are entrusted with the power of land development and conveyance, and could borrow from state-owned bank with land use right as collateral for loans, backed by local government.

Land commodification and price appreciation are their major source of income, which would in turn be used to finance infrastructure development. Thus, they act as the financial arm of the local government, enhance the state’s control over local space production through land monetarization, and manipulate urban forms as a tool in achieving state objectives.

Politically, the local government retains dominant control over UIDCs through personnel arrangement. For example, leaders of a UIDC could be former government cadres and could have concurrent appointments within a UIDC and government.

The case of Songjiang, Shanghai

In Songjiang New Town, Shanghai, the president of Songjiang New Town Development Corporation (SNTDC) also took the position of the party secretary of a Street Office (the lowest level of government administrative unit), and the local state can thus coordinate efficiently and act effectively, taking advantage of market intelligences, experiences and administrative power and resources. SNTDC could also obtain land at low price, and manipulate the statutory planning mechanism for its own economic gains.

UIDCs also act as local government’s administrative arm, helping to channel state economic policies to a specific place for implementation.

For example, SNTDC in Shanghai took charge of implementing the mega-project Thames Town as “artistic town, creative town, romantic town”, to enhance Shanghai’s position in the global cultural map. It also helps shape local community’s social value through actively engaging in residents’ social and cultural life via urban design, facility provision and community activities.

Key differences between China and UK

As can be seen, the Chinese UIDCs are different from the British UDCs in several aspects. Chinese UIDCs are affiliated and answer to local government, while British UDCs are centrally appointed agencies run by boards that primarily composed of private-sector members.

Under post-1980s free market reforms in many parts of Europe, newly established development institutions are often independent private or semi-private entities responding to market needs as the role of the state dwindles.

In post-socialist China, market is created and harnessed by the state through UIDCs which in turn enable local governments to participate in the market, appropriate land price appreciation, finance infrastructure, reward state allies, and invest in social spending. As such, they represent the expansion of state power institutionally, socio-spatially and economically.

The article is based on the 2018 RTPI Research Awards entry “Urban investment and development corporations, new town development and China’s local state restructuring – the case of Songjiang new town, Shanghai”. 2019 Awards are calling for entries. 

Guest blogs do not necessarily represent the views of the RTPI.

Link

New Town Development Strategies CoverA big thank you to all those delegates who took part in the Town Planning Strategies workshop in Manila last week.

As promised I provide the PowerPoint presentations for your further information.

If you have any questions or would like to post your own ideas and experiences on this website then do please get in touch. This is an open forum so all contributions are gratefully received.

Links to the YouTube Videos used during the presentation are provided below:

Don’t Panic!

What is a Garden City?

The UK’s First Eco-Town

Smarter Cities

Future Cities

Bill Gates – Water from Waste

Housing crisis needs 40 garden cities

Shelter-WEB

As many 40 new garden cities are needed to solve the housing crisis, according to planners and architects shortlisted for a prestigious prize.
The 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize this year looks at submissions on the question: “How would you deliver a new Garden City which is visionary, economically viable, and popular?”
Submissions from three of the five finalists suggest that 30 to 40 cities with between 10,000 and 50,000 homes are needed over the next 20 years.

Read more HERE

New Town Development Corporation for Ebbsfleet Garden City

ebbsfleet1Communities secretary Eric Pickles has outlined plans to set up a development corporation to co-ordinate future development of the proposed Ebbsfleet Garden City.
The body will be part of the DCLG’s plan to put local people at the heart of shaping future projects.
The DCLG said that the new corporation would assist local authorities with solving issues that have previously held Ebbsfleet back, as well as co-ordinating investment and ensuring development gets driven forward.

READ MORE HERE

Doing It The Milton Keynes Way – BBC Radio 4 Programme

Milton Keynes is gaining a reputation for something other than its roundabouts and concrete cows. The much maligned new-town is now leading the way in the economic recovery and topping the league tables as the UK’s most business-friendly town.
MK, as it’s affectionately known by its residents, has many of the key ingredients when it comes to attracting business investment. It has good connections to London and the rest of the country, plenty of factory and office space, an abundance of skilled graduates on its doorstop and house prices well below the national average, as building has kept up with the town’s booming population. All this has helped Milton Keynes build one of the strongest city economies in the UK, boasting the 4th highest business start-up rate and the 3rd highest output per worker out of 64 cities.
Deborah Meaden, the fearsome business brain of TV’s ‘Dragon’s Den’, travels to Milton Keynes to visit different businesses and find out if there is a secret ingredient beyond the issues of location and education. Local entrepreneurs talk about the ‘Milton Keynes can-do attitude’. They say part of the reason MK has thrived is due to their drive to push their businesses forward and work together. Deborah discusses the nature of the unique MK mind-set with three small business owners to pin down exactly what it is.
But there is a question over whether Milton Keynes is going to inspire its next generation – just in the same way today’s business leaders were galvanised by the town’s planners or ‘founding fathers’, who cemented a pioneering spirit into its culture. Two young entrepreneurs tell Deborah that although MK is a great place to start up, it needs to make sure it attracts more innovative hi-tech companies and independent shops and businesses in order to maintain its success into the future.
So what can other cities learn from Milton Keynes? Chief executive of the think tank Centre For Cities, Alexandra Jones, shares her thoughts on which parts of MK’s success can be replicated in other parts of the UK, especially in the cities of northern England where economic growth is desperately needed. Should more cities be doing it the Milton Keynes way?

To listen to the programme CLICK HERE

Vancouver urban farm looks to open retail locations

VancouverurbanfarmVancouver’s social enterprise urban farm is making plans to open a market in a converted shipping container and a produce stand inside Granville Island Market.

Sole Food Street Farms is kicking off a crowdfunding campaign May 14 to raise the $100,000 required to retrofit the container as a market stand to be positioned at the corner of Main Street and Terminal Avenue and to equip it and the Granville Island location for retail sales.

Read More HERE