Global Course

Spatial Planning & Institutional Design

Lecture 5

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This lecture discusses the agency and structure of the spatial planning system in China and uses the case of Beijing’s Municipality to explain how the system works. Structure here refers to the rules and resources in the urban planning and development process, including administrative and legislative procedure and plans. Agency is related to the different departments, which are connected by urban planning and development control at the national and municipal level, and to all stakeholders involved in urban developments.

First, we will review the institutional context on the evolution of the urban planning and development control system in China, and in particular, focus on the market-oriented transition over the last four decades. Then we will compare and interpret the structure of the system. Second, we will establish the connection between macro and micro level governance in urban planning and development control. Here we highlight the interrelations between agency and structure in China’s spatial planning system.

Spatial planning in China is still regarded fundamentally as a state’s duty and an important tool of macro- readjustment for tiers of government. Meanwhile, the system has also been obviously adjusted in response to changing contexts, such as surging housing demands, increased discretion of local government and emerging civil society. As a result, China’s spatial planning system now includes three separate planning systems, socio-economic plans by Committee of Reform and Development (ESDP), urban plans (UP) by the local urban planning authority, and five-level land use overall plans (LUOP) by the Bureau of Land Management.

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