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China Further Strengthens Administration on Construction Land-use
On Jan. 7, 2008, the State Council of China issued the Announcement on Promoting Economized and Intensive Land-use, in hope of further strengthening the administration on construction land-use.

According to the Announcement, the “related plans and land-use standards should be examined and adjusted according to the principle of economized and intensive land-use,” which can be interpreted in detail as follows. Firstly, the overall control role of land-use master planning should be strengthened. The various plans related to land-use should be in line with the land-use master plan, in particular with the total amount and the annual consumption of construction land fixed by the formers being in accordance with those proposed by the land-use master plan, and any plans violating the land-use master plan and the land-use annual program as well should be adjusted and revised in time, with the excessive construction land being verified and reduced. Secondly, the scientific planning for major infrastructures and fundamental industries should be further boosted in practice. Following the principles of rational layout, economy and feasibility, and well controlled time phasing, the planning for the construction of various infrastructures such as transportation, energy-resources, and water conservancy, as well as that for the construction of fundamental industries, should be coordinated and balanced, so as to avoid the waste of land resources caused by blind investments, excessively high construction standards and low-level repeated constructions. Thirdly, the land-use scale of cities should be controlled strictly. Based on the principles of proper sequence and steady progress, saving land, intensive development, and rational layout, the urban planning should scientifically define the development orientation, the functional goal, and the growth scale of cities, aiming at strengthening their comprehensive bearing capacity. At the same time, the technical standards of urban planning that are in line with the principle of economized and intensive land-use should be established and revised timely. In particular, the urban planning norms including land-use area per capita and land-use structure should be revised and released as soon as possible, and the other urban planning norms such as construction density, floorarea ratio, and green area ratio should also be fixed scientifically. Moreover, the construction of various civil infrastructures, as well as that of ecological greening, should be carried out strictly following the national standards, and the planning and construction of broad roads, large squares, and greening belts that are beyond the actual needs should be completely forbidden. Fourthly, the land-use standards should be absolutely followed. Efforts should be made to improve the standard of various construction land-use, in particular to establish the construction land-use standards for public facilities and public welfare undertakings. Under the condition of fulfilling the requirements of function and safety, the construction land-use standards of the existing various projects should be re-examined and revised according to the principle of economized and intensive land-use. Any construction standards and design norms that are in conflict with the land-use standards should be revised timely. The advanced techniques of land-saving, as well as the measures of lowering the height of roadbeds and raising the ratio of bridges and tunnels, should be broadly applied in construction, so as to reduce the construction land for infrastructures including highway and railway and the volumes of acquired and abandoned earth. The land-use standards should be strictly followed during the process of design, construction, and examination and approval of construction land, and any excessive land-use should be reduced according to the land-use standards.

The Announcement encourages the development and utilization of overground and underground spaces, declaring that, “For the existing industrial land, no added land price will be charged for the increases of land utilization rate and floor-area ratio if they are in line with the city plans and the land-use is not changed. For the new industrial land, the controlling indexes for industrial land-use should be further upgraded, and the excess of floor area over the controlling index of floor-area ratio will not be charged with added land price. The fiscal and revenue departments should strictly implement and improve the revenue policies to encourage the economized and intensive land-use, while the Ministry of Land and Resources, together with other departments concerned, should speed up the study on the specific methods of defining and registering the rights of land and space.”

In the meantime, the Announcement requires to rationally define the scale of transferred land, stating that, “The detailed control plan and the land supply scheme should be drafted before the implementation of land transfer, with the planning terms such as floor-area ratio, green area ratio, and construction density being well clarified. Once approved, none of these planning terms could be changed without authorization.” It also requires to optimize the structure of housing land-use, such as rationally arranging the lands for housing and insistently suspending the land supply for the real estate development of villas. The planning terms of lowest floor-area ratio, residential density, housing design and so on should be clarified in land transfer contracts or land transfer approvals, so as to avoid that more lands are occupied by luxury commercial housing projects, and to ensure that no less than 70% of the lands for housing are used for the projects of low-rent housing, economically affordable housing, price-limited housing, and regular commercial housing that are characterized by the medium- and small-sized unit smaller than 90 m2.

What’s more, the Announcement requires to “enhance the land-use administration in the countryside so as to boost the economized and intensive use of collective-owned construction land”. Firstly, emphasis should be laid on the planning administration on the collective-owned construction land in the countryside. Following the principles of balancing urban and rural development and promoting economized and intensive land-use, efforts should be made to supervise and guide the land-use master planning of towns, the town planning, and the village planning, so as to identify the villages and towns to be removed and combined, and to delimit the areas for village and town construction and those for resuming farming. The non-agricultural constructions occupying collective-owned lands must be in line with the plans concerned and be included in the land-use annual program for examination and approval according to the related regulations. It is forbidden to transfer any agricultural land into construction land without authorization, or to transfer any agricultural land for non-agricultural use by way of “renting instead of expropriating”. Secondly, the land-use efficiency of construction land in the countryside should be further promoted. Based on the principles of respecting farmers’ will and protecting farmers’ benefits and rights, the existing collective-owned construction lands in the countryside should be activated and utilized legally, for example to carry out steadily the redevelopment of the existing collective-owned construction lands in line with the plans concerned, so as to improve the working and living conditions of farmers. The rural housing construction should be in accordance with the town plans and the village plans, occupying in priority the unoccupied and unused lands or the abandoned residence sites within the village. Local governments should encourage with certain bonus or subsidy the villagers who voluntarily return their residence sites or voluntarily buy unused houses even though they area qualified for applying for new residence site. Thirdly, the policy of one household one residence should be strictly implemented. The land-use standards for housing such as residential area per capita should be updated in line with the local conditions so as to avoid the housing construction occupying excessive land, while the historical issue of one household occupying several residences should be solved step by step so as to stop the phenomena of residence site exceeding the land-use standards and one household occupying several residences.

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