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From a Special Economic Zone to a Smart Sustainable City: The Power of Strategic Spatial Planning in Shenzhen

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Nested in a centrally driven political hierarchy, planners in Shenzhen, China's first Special Economic Zone, have an onerous task in steering the city's spatial developments. They must refer not only to higher-level plans in formulating its development strategy, but also use planning to regain control of a city with vested land interests (former farmers with collectively owned land and state-owned enterprises who have been 'zone builders' from day one) in order to ful fil its role as the country's pioneering, sustainable, low-carbon, and high-tech city. The paper argues that while strategic spatial planning is quintessential to the wellbeing of people, place, and planet, one has to understand its potential and constraints through implementation and grounded evolving practices shaped by, among others, historical, economic, political, and governance factors.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2022

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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