In 2001 Yangzhou city hall launched a programme to improve living conditions in the city’s historic centre through both refurbishment works and new builds of private dwellings and public spaces. The strategies it included have also contributed to raising awareness among the citizens of the importance of urban conservation.more / less»
In contrast to other capitals in the prefecture, in Yangzhou there are no tall buildings, crossings at different levels or major shopping centres. It covers a surface space of almost 1,000 km2 and has a total population of 1,151,300 inhabitants.
In the nineteen-eighties, with the speeding up of the economy and migration from the countryside to the city, hundreds of thousands of people moved to Yangzhou, which could not adequately accommodate the new inhabitants, leading to unstructured urban build-up. According to a survey conducted in the year 2000, 98% of residents were dissatisfied with their residential conditions and were calling for urgent improvements.
In 2001, the city of Yangzhou launched a project, in cooperation with the German development agency (GTZ), to conserve its historic centre and to promote sustainable development through the creative and efficient use of local resources. It also sought to raise citizens’ awareness of the need to improve the environment.
Since then, the municipal government has formulated 15 policies involving the renovation of decaying –and therefore dangerous- housing in the historic centre and the construction of new affordable housing for lower-income families; a total of 770 million dollars has been invested. The municipality has renovated 3,050 dwellings in the area of the old town (30% of the cost of which was subsidised and the other 70% covered by the residents) and has built 33,000 social dwellings. It is estimated that 148,000 residents classified as highly vulnerable have benefited from the new social housing.
The municipal government has also invested 2 billion dollars in improving roads, treating the river, waste water and waste, improved the supply of potable water, etc. For example, the expansion of hydraulic works in 2002 brought about an increase of 100,000 tonnes per day to meet the citizens’ needs for drinking water.
In 2003, the Eco-City programme was the first one to be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency of China, and since its implementation green public spaces have been expanded by 26%. This programme supports clean industrial production: 20 regional businesses have to date introduced environmental management measures and the local authorities have examined the environmental standards of dozens of companies.
In addition, since the start-up of the programme ten years ago the municipal government has created three municipal agencies and institutes, appointed a chief of protection and refurbishment of the centre, another one in charge of the execution and a third one devoted to the promotion and dissemination of the old town.
In 2006 Yangzhou won the UN-Habitat prize for its protection of the city’s historic centre and the improvement in living conditions and the environment.
//Proposal by: Hans-Juergen Cassens