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Understanding Beijing's moving urban fringe through a spatial equilibrium model

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The growth of the main built-up area of Beijing is characterised by a pancake like expansion, from 100 km2 in 1950 to 1210 km2 in 2005 in successive waves. The approach to future urban expansion will require careful consideration, as economic, environmental and social conflicts at the urban fringe have intensified. Two successive greenbelts have been designated to contain expansion and engender more compact growth. However, the first greenbelt has not been achieved successfully and many areas designated as the second greenbelt is facing implementation challenges. This paper builds on existing research into greenbelt policy implementation and investigates the impacts of alternative urban growth boundary proposals under a systematic modelling framework. It reviews the theoretical insights into growth at the urban fringe, and puts forward a methodology that links development at the urban fringe to the functioning of the entire metropolitan area. It outlines six alternative development scenarios that encompass the existing planning proposals for the urban fringe: trend growth, densification, stringent greenbelt, loose greenbelt, hybrid controls, and green wedges. We use a prototypical spatial equilibrium model to quantify the performance of the development scenarios in terms of production costs, consumer welfare, wages, floorspace rents, and commuting times. The analyses suggest that the physical forms of fringe area development do significantly affect the economic performance of the whole municipality.Alternative proposals, including those that have rarely considered in the past, should be investigated carefully in this light, in conjunction with related studies on social and environmental impacts of urban fringe development.



computable general equilibrium, spatial modelling, urban fringe, urban form, policy appraisal, greenbelt, green wedges

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International Review for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development

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International Community of Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K000314/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L010917/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/I019308/1)