Planning official shares Yangtze River Delta vision

A forum marking World Cities Day is told that urban planning and development of the Yangtze River Delta region will focus on "power, link, action, culture, ecology and sample."

The urban planning and development of the Yangtze River Delta region will focus on "power, link, action, culture, ecology and sample," a Shanghai official said on Thursday.

The cluster of cities in the Yangtze River Delta — 41 with total population of 224 million — aims to be on a par with the world's leading metropolitan clusters in New York, Tokyo, London and Paris, Xu Yisong, director of the Shanghai Urban Planning and Natural Resources Bureau told a forum marking the World Cities Day.

As one of the most dynamic, open and innovative regions on economic development in China, the Yangtze River Delta has created nearly 20 percent of the nation's GDP, 25 percent of the import and export volume and 34 percent of cargo turnover.

However, the region still lags behind the world's top city clusters with restrictions on development, such as imbalanced regional development, a fragile ecological environment and similar economic structures, Xu told global experts and urban planners in a keynote speech.

According to Shanghai's master plan for 2035, the city cluster around Shanghai will include 24 city-town circles. The average shuttle distance across the region will be about 60 kilometers, comparing with about 80 kilometers in the area around Paris, 150 kilometers of Tokyo and 120 kilometers of London.

The integrated urban planning for the Yangtze River Delta region will focus on PLACES, or "power, link, action, culture, ecology and sample," Xu said.

“PLACES”

"Power" means each city will have its own core function, such as finance, manufacturing, science and education as well as cultural innovation. Shared platforms will be created to carry out joint research.

"Link" focuses on green and efficient comprehensive transport systems across the region, featuring intelligent infrastructure. High-speed railways, intercity railways and expressways will cover cities or towns with over 50,000 inhabitants.

Passengers will be able to shuttle between international or regional transport hubs within an hour, and between secondary urban transport hubs within 30 minutes, Xu said.

"Action" requires integrated institutions, constructions and management across the region. The urban planning blueprint for the region, for instance, is one of the core ideas for its development.

The region should also focus on the promotion of Jiangnan culture, or the traditional cultures developed in south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Xu said.

As the origin of the Jiangnan cultures, the urban clusters around Shanghai has formed the tender Wu culture, the passionate Yue culture and the inclusive Haipai, or Shanghai-style, culture dating back centuries, Xu said.

Protection lines should be drawn around cultural heritage sites, tourist attractions and public culture services in planning or urban development, he added.

Overall protective measures should also be conducted on natural resources to protect and restore the ecological environment. Multilevel protections will be carried out for the Yangtze River and the Taihu Lake streams.

A series of "sample" districts will be highlighted within the region to become demonstration areas for the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region. Best candidates include the 15-minute life circle of Shanghai and its countryside village planning, the urban-rural development of Yaozhuang Town in Zhejiang and the farmland and garden complexes in Jiangsu.

These samples will become windows to the world to showcase China's reform and opening up, its ecological value, innovation and economic development as well as high-quality living conditions, Xu added.

Global experts such as Peter Calthorpe, senior vice president of the HDR architectural institute, Moses Gates, vice president of the US Regional Planning Association, and Takeuchi Naofumi, a former urban planning official in Japan, shared their research and visions on the planning and development of urban clusters at the forum.

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