Master Plan and Impact on Residents: Market-biased development

In 2008, the State Council approved the fourth master plan. The fourth master plan focuses to restructure Xi’an’s urban space and move from industrial layout to economic market layout. Improvement of local living environment and restoration of the culture and cityscape would be achieved by attraction of investors. However, to make balance between conservation of historical site and new developed site, the government set new regulation around the heritage site.

The Fourth Master Plan of Xi’an(2008-2020)[1]

During the third and fourth master plan, Imperial cityscape of Tang dynasty was coerced, and with the private developers, the most of city was redeveloped to the imperial cityscape. Also, indigenous historical urban fabric was removed, if it was not coincided with the cityscape.[2]

Beside the mimic development of Tang Dynasty, conservation regulation was set. In 1993, to control the height of the buildings, ‘Regulations on the Urban Building-Height Control’ was set. Thus, all the buildings could not be built larger than 24 m which is 7 stories height.

After the Urban Building-Height Control, in 2002, ‘Conservation Regulation on Xi’an Historic and Cultural City’, in 2005, ‘Xi’an Urban Planning Management Regulations’ were introduced. Use of the Land was divided by the master plan, and massive redevelopment was proceeded by property-led.

To control the local development, new management mechanism was introduced.

Also, during the fourth master plan, there was an attempt to keep local traditions: daily lives and group activities through reclamation and relocation of private properties. Improvement of the quality of living condition, conservation of environment of the Great Mosque, and promotion of local economic growth and restoration of historical buildings are the main objectives of the project. [3]

To achieve the objectives, there were two main approaches: Conservation-biased revitalization, and Market-biased property redevelopment. The conservation-biased revitalization was held in a selected district which is Beiyuanmen street. During the implementation, there were three main stakeholders: Government, NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation), and residents. The government provides fund for public infrastructure and pay for workers. NORAD provides fund for restoration of historical buildings, and local residents paid to renew their own residences.  In consequences, streets were widened, exposed façades of buildings were re decorated in style of Qing and Ming dynasties. Beside the traditional façade buildings, new modern buildings with 2-3 stories were constructed for the residents who were relocated during the enlargement of the street. Even though, the residents were compensated, they need to pay the cost price to afford the new residences. However, the project protected many remaining traditional courtyard and houses. Also, the conservation project affected on the tourist industry, and in result, the annual economy has been grown.[3]

On the other hand, in the other region of Xi’an, redevelopment has been proceeded. The development is mainly following the grade of the land. To create more revenue from the land use, the government and investors, started to replace the residential houses into multi-level, mixed use commercial complexes. These complexes create more opportunity for the businesses and living units. However, residents who were replaced, lost their business which was continued from the past. Even though the development lead increase of private investment, it promoted replacement of residents, and in result, it caused destruction of local society and local urban fabric.[4]

Graded land in Xi’an[5]

In the 4th master plan, government tried to include residents’ opinions and perspectives. However, the choices that residents had were: getting compensation and move out or paying for new apartments after redevelopment. With concerns on economic development, the last master plan of Xi’an looked forward on urban conservation as well as development. The city is full of tourism resources and it became more suitable for tourism, yet original local residents are suffering in the traffic jam and lack of public infrastructure. The life style of the original local residents is another heritage of Xi’an which is different from other cities. The way they live in the historical city should be conserved and treated as a history of Xi’an. Thus, the government should respect local lives in the urban fabric and should focus on the society formed in the urban fabric and the community of Xi’an.



[1] XUPB (Xi’an Urban Planning Bureau). 2008. Planning of Xi’an 2008-2020. Architecture and Culture(7), 2-17.

[2] Dong. W. 2012. Regenerating Chinese Cities: A Framework for Sustainable Decision Making based on Chinese Traditional Philosophy. 5-5. Australia: The University of Newcastle.

[3] Li, H. Y. 2002. Impact of Land Tenure Transformation on Physical Development of DrumTower Muslim District, Xi’an China. Unpublished Master Thesis, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

[4] Wang, T. 2002. Research on the Renewal Method of Xi’an Muslim District. In B. Erring, H. Høyem & S. Vinsrygg (Eds.), The horizontal skyscraper (pp. 91-95). Trondheim: Tapir Academic Press.

[5] MLRPRC, T. M. o. L. a. R. P. R. C. 2003. “中國城市地價圖集 (A Pictorial Collection of
Urban Land Prices in Chinese Cities) (1st ed.)”. Beijing: China Maps Press.

1 Comment on “Master Plan and Impact on Residents: Market-biased development

  1. The series of narratives are good, but a bit brief due to the long periods they span. Thus they read as quick factual nuggets instead of your own take on various topics. It would have been better to focus on the period you have chosen for the presentation, and to delve into individual themes. These could include the role of foreign capital (NORAD), conflict between development and the residents, congestion, the erosion of traditional livelihood etc.

    PS. Please remember to cite all images in your post

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