International Development Planning Review

Growth management and decentralisation: An assessment of urban containment policies in Beijing in the 1990s

International Development Planning Review (2009), 31, (1), 55–79.

Abstract

This article provides an empirical analysis of the performance of urban containment policies in Beijing in the 1990s. The results show that the objectives of the municipal urban containment policies have been partly achieved through actual local developments. Overall urban compactness was enhanced. The planned peripheral constellations witnessed dramatic population and density growth. However, some unexpected growth and urban sprawl in outer suburban areas was largely inconsistent with the objectives of the municipal containment policy. The results suggest that urban containment policy in Beijing was challenged by local development activities, which were being fostered by new trends towards local autonomy and fiscal responsibility as well as marketisation in the transformation process. These empirical findings from the 1990s are consistent with the arguments on urban containment policies in Beijing after 2000. In the interest of future policy making, research needs to offer new mechanisms that enable local land development to be controlled by urban containment policies. Reinforcing municipal development management is likely to be an efficient way of achieving the goal of urban containment policy in the context of decentralisation.

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Zhao, Pengjun

Lü, Bin

Woltjer, Johan