AccScience Publishing / JCAU / Volume 5 / Issue 4 / DOI: 10.36922/jcau.0433
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Comprehensive versus incremental industrial redevelopment: The role of planning

Li Fan1 Xueying Chen2* Uwe Altrock1 Zhikui Cao2
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1 Department of Urban Regeneration and Planning Theory, University of Kassel, Kassel, Hessen, Germany
2 School of Design, Zhijiang College of Zhejiang University of Technology, Shaoxing, Zhejiang, China
Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism 2023, 5(4), 0433
Submitted: 13 April 2023 | Accepted: 8 September 2023 | Published: 15 December 2023
© 2023 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC-by the license) ( )

Urban planning has been pivotal in shaping China’s urban landscape since the early 2000s, with statutory plans regulating every detail of urban land. However, this planning-led development approach has proven inadequate for the redevelopment of inner-city industrial land, necessitating alternative approaches. To explore this issue, a comprehensive study was conducted, analyzing 395 industrial land redevelopment projects in four districts of Shanghai (Hongkou District, Putuo District, Yangpu District, and Jing’an District). Surprisingly, nearly half of these projects deviated from the established land use plans, indicating the emergence of an alternative (semi-)informal practice-led approach, specifically tailored to incremental industrial redevelopment. This study aims to dissect and compare the redevelopment processes under both approaches, examine the shifting role of planning as the alternative (re)development approach emerges, and address its legitimate issues. Key arguments presented include (i) challenges faced by the conventional planning-led development approach due to shifting national urban redevelopment strategies, paving the way for the emergence of an alternative approach in inner-city redevelopment; (ii) the Shanghai local government’s choice not to restructure the existing conformist urban planning system to accommodate land redevelopment demands, maintaining an ambiguous stance on the legitimacy of the practice-led redevelopment to retain the flexibility and discretionary authority of local government officials in decision-making; and (iii) due to their legitimate issues, incremental redevelopment projects executed through the practice-led approach may eventually be replaced by comprehensive planning-led redevelopment projects. Consequently, the former assumes a subordinate role to the latter and is viewed as temporary land reuse practices. Despite the observed emergence of the practice-led approach in industrial redevelopment in Shanghai, it is deemed not yet robust enough to offer a viable alternative path for inner-city redevelopment.

Urban planning
Urban redevelopment
Industrial land
This study is financially supported by the German Research Foundation (Grant no.: 651463).

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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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