Bold vision for our future city

Shanghai has drawn up a master plan to develop into a “global city of excellence” by 2040, distinguished by being bold, creative, eco-friendly and people-oriented. 

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

A green unicorn-shaped statue in a local park

To mark Shanghai’s status as one of the Chinese cities first opening its doors to foreign traders, Shanghai has drawn up a master plan to develop into a “global city of excellence” by 2040 — two hundred years after the occasion that allowed Shanghai to become an international city.

The vision of how Shanghai will look and function two decades from now is bold, creative, eco-friendly and people-oriented.

“Residents of all ages will be able to enjoy a healthy lifestyle in Shanghai,” according to the core concept of the 2040 blueprint. “Residents will be able to ‘read’ buildings, stroll freely on our streets, ‘taste and feel’ nearby parks and enjoy the skyline. Our urban expression will be generous, amiable and elegant, and will make people feel comfortable and pleasant.”

In the future Shanghai, joggers can run through city parks and rest on grasslands when their legs tire. Lovers of the performing arts will no longer have to go to large theaters to see dance, music and drama. Smaller community theaters will supplement the grand venues, and interactive performances will allow audiences to participate in events.

Children will be able to play in neighborhood activity centers without safety concerns. Neighbors in all communities will be mobilized to look after one another. Health services at the local level will be improved.

“Shanghai will become a metropolis with positive energy and great vitality,” said Xu Yisong, deputy director of the Planning, Land and Resources Administration Bureau. “We will continue to take the lead in China’s economic development and become an innovative, humanistic and eco-friendly city.”



Eco-friendly, people-oriented master plan

To achieve such far-reaching goals, the city’s master plan calls for better controls over construction activity and population growth to protect the environment and improve urban safety.

As a major target of the blueprint, the city’s population will be limited to 25 million by 2020. At the end of 2014, according to official data, Shanghai had 24.3 million residents, including registered locals and migrants who had been in the city for six months or more.

The population target has been applauded by the public. A survey released by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in July showed that 48.5 percent of respondents said a population limit will benefit the city’s development, and 43.9 percent of respondents said it would enhance the urban lifestyle.

“The range of support was beyond our expectations, especially among respondents who come from out of town,” said Zhang Huxiang, an academician with the institute.

Furthermore, the land area allocated for new construction in the city will be limited to 3,200 square kilometers, about a quarter of which will be dedicated to residential building, according to the plan.

Remaining land in the city will be dedicated to forestland and parks. Wooded areas will cover 25 percent of the city. By 2014, the per-capita area of parks and greenbelts will be 15 square meters compared with about 7 square meters today, according to the plan.

Seven new country parks have already opened to public. Most are located in suburban districts, including Minhang, Jiading, Jinshan, Songjiang, Qingpu and Chongming. Among them, the newly opened Pujiang Country Park in Minhang attracted more than 370,000 visitors during its first month of trial operation in late July, well above forecasts, according to the park’s operator.

With the help of these “green lungs,” the average density of PM2.5, or hazardous fine particulate air pollution, will be reduced to about 20 micrograms per cubic meter, compared with last year’s 53 micrograms.

To slash average commuting times to under 40 minutes by 2040, the city plans to extend the Metro network, intercity rail network and tram lines by about 1,000 kilometers each.

More than half of downtown residents will rely on public transport by 2040, said Xu, and more than 60 percent of residents will have a subway station within 600 meters of their homes.

In a bid to enhance Shanghai’s cultural amenities, there will be 10 art galleries, two museums and five libraries for every 100,000 residents. Sports aficionados can look forward to at least five new professional football fields, as well as more gymnasiums and training centers.

Additional international communities for expats and apartments for professional talent will be built to attract talent from around the world. By 2040, the city expects to host more than 15 million overseas tourists a year.

The blueprint is already going beyond the drawing boards. Some 45 kilometers of waterfront along the Huangpu River between the Yangpu and Xupu bridges will be open to the public by the end of this year. When the entire project is completed, Shanghai’s world-renowned riverfront will equal the Left Bank in Paris and the Thames Walkway in London.

Another highlight of the master plan is the development of the city’s Chongming Island into a “world-class ecological” center by 2040. Its Dongtan Wetland Park, a 102-square-kilometer national natural reserve for birds, will be off-limits to all development.

Highways and Metro lines will be upgraded to shorten the distance between the city center and the island to within an hour by either car or subway, according to the Chongming government.




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