China to curb urban sprawl around high-speed rail stations
Photo: Traveller.com.au
 
With over a hundred “new towns” springing up near high-speed rail stations on the periphery of smaller cities, Chinese authorities has worked out guidelines for “rational development” to curb the urban sprawl which is generally regarded as the reason behind many of the country’s “ghost cities”.

Four government departments in China jointly issued a directive recently to regulate land development in the vicinity of high-speed railway (HSR) stations, to prevent unwelcome side effects of the development of rapid rail transit and its spur to the economy.

China has built the world’s largest high-speed rail system since a decade ago. Now, the country boasts 25,000 kilometres of HSR lines connected by over 700 HSR stations covering almost all major cities.

It’s widely reported that along with the construction of eight crisscrossed high-speed rail lines across the nation has come a craze for building “new districts” surrounding the new stations.


The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planner, has joined hands with the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and China Railway Company to release the “directive” to guide urban development around the traffic nodes.

It’s been made clear that local governments “must not exploit the opportunity just to develop real estate projects or to be involved in any kind of blind urban expansion.”


Meng Wei, an NDRC spokesperson, said the purpose of the directive is to make sure that the land development surrounding the stations is orderly and sensible and suits local conditions.

Theme parks and small towns with distinctive tourist attractions have proven to be catalysts of urban expansion in the country. Now with HSR “new towns” being put on a similar track, local governments are warned of over-exploitation of land near the high-speed rail nodes.

Newly built HSR stations are mostly in central and western China, or provincial cities in East China. Based on Chinese media reports as early as in 2015, over 70 Chinese cities were planning or building HSR new towns.

It’s also known that over the past two years, an additional 20-plus cities had joined force. Most of the cities with HSR are smaller cities with a population of less than one million.

The problem lies in the fact that the urban areas of the smaller cities are usually far away from their HSR stations. According to a report by the Beijing Morning Post, based on a survey of 41 such traffic nodes, some of them are dozens or even hundreds of kilometers away from the city proper.

How vibrant the new towns are will depend largely on how well they can attract businesses, workers and developers, analyzed a report by smartcitiesdive.com, which pointed out that political factors play a part in the selection of new stations.

“Large Chinese cities with greater bargaining powers are able to negotiate with China Railway Company to have HSR stations closer to city centers, whereas smaller cities might have stations located further out, sometimes over 20 km away,” wrote the report.

The state agencies’ newly released directive also warned the smaller cities tend to design their new districts too big, with a long distance with the location of stations. So, burdened by the large development scale, monotonous design and poor infrastructure, many apartments in the new districts have long remained vacant.

Smartcitiesdive.com put forward a case in point. Dezhou in East China’s coastal Shandong province which is only one hour and 20 minutes’ drive away from Beijing by high-speed train unfortunately belongs to one of the smaller cities that are encumbered by its gloomy HSR town. “A massive plaza dumps passengers into farms and villages far from the city center,” wrote the report.

As well, it’s reported that a few such new districts, mostly in large cities, are really becoming prosperous, with the new developments around the HSR stations in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province being a good example.

“Some areas (i.e. local governments) think as long as there is high-speed rail, there will be more and more residents. Actually, the stations are merely transit nodes as they are. Development takes time while the new towns must be bolstered by industries and markets,” Liu Hongyu from the Real Estate Research Institute of Tsinghua University, was quoted by the Beijing Morning Post as saying.
 

 


Related Stories
Share this page
Touched Sympathetic Bored Angry Amused Sad Happy No comment

China to curb urban sprawl around high-speed rail stationsOver 40 percent of college graduates willing to work in China's new first-tier citiesGaokao season: China to embark on National College Entrance ExaminationUS move to tighten visa policy targets STEM studentsChina's inland provinces consider feasibility of building free trade ports after Hainan planUS trade adviser undercuts claim that trade war is ‘on hold’ as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross preps for BeijingChinese healthy lifespan overtakes U.S. for 1st time:  WHOChina’s top prosecutor raises alarm about rise in child molestation8 Chinese cities introduce lottery system for sales of new residential projectsMore property curbs expected amid price rise in smaller cities
< Prev Next >