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Highlights of June 29 Press Conference on Urban Planning for Suburban New Towns

Hu Jun, deputy director of Shanghai Bureau of Planning and Land Resources

Oriental Morning Post:The population of Lingang New Town is about 180,000 now and will eventually reach 600,000 to 800,000 according to the plan. You said the government will come up with detailed policies. What are these policies? The current population figure is far from the target. How are you going to attract more people to live in Lingang?

Hu Jun:Our support for Lingang is consistent with our support for other new towns. Take the rail transportation for example. We’ve obtained the central government’s approval to build a Metro line to Lingang New Town to improve its access. Second, we’ve done our best to build public facilities in Lingang, such as schools and hospitals. We are also considering to build other large cultural and commercial projects there. Housing developments designed for skilled professionals in Lingang and other parts of Pudong will start one by one. Preferential policies are given for the construction of Lingang New Town.

Shanghai Morning Post:I learned from official documents that new towns in Jiading and Songjiang districts will absorb 1.6 million people, while new towns in other districts will absorb a population of 800,000. Do these figures involve people coming from downtown areas? What’s the biggest obstacle to population transfer? How to keep them in suburban new towns? What measures will the new towns take to improve public facilities and education?

Hu Jun:A city is not built in one day. It involves a continual process of development. Many people hope to find a new city completed in a year, three years or five years. That is unreasonable because a city performs numerous functions which can only be optimized gradually according to circumstances. The population figures include people from elsewhere in China and from downtown Shanghai. Our urban planners are not preoccupied with population size. In my opinion, the size is just an approximate number. For instance, the number 600,000 to 800,000 may settle for 690,000 to 830,000. According to the Municipal Government documents, key measures to keep residents in the new towns include providing modern public facilities, easy transportation, better environment and plenty of jobs. Jobs in local manufacturing enterprises plus adequate housing are key to the success of these new towns. It’s hard to have well-developed services with only a small population. That may answer your question on how to keep people in the new towns.

Shanghai Morning Post:I also want to ask questions about education.

Hu Jun:I think it will take some time. We are trying to introduce some outstanding schools in downtown to the suburbs. As new towns prosper in economy and population, it will be much easier.

Labor Daily:I have a question regarding the preservation of place names. I checked the city’s relevant regulations after Luwan and Huangpu districts were merged. How will Shanghai preserve its historical names? We are unaware of any effort in this regard after the city abolished Nanhui and Nanshi districts. The construction of new towns will certainly change the fate of many old towns. How will the city preserve those old names?

Hu Jun:The preservation of historical names is very important. I think a plan can be made to preserve old district names and place names. A well-known district name may no longer be retained as a district name, but it can continue to exist in other manner. We racked our brain on how to keep the name of Nanhui and I think the names of Nanshi and Luwan can all be preserved as the name of a smaller place rather than a district.

CCTV:I noticed that some train stations were planned for the city’s high-speed railways and you mentioned that some new towns are planned to take advantage of the high-speed railways. Could you tell us a bit more about this?

Hu Jun:I’ll give you two examples. The Shanghai-Hangzhou High-speed Railway, which is part of Shanghai-Kunming High-speed Railway, has several stations, such as Fengjing Station in Jinshan District and Songjiang South Station in Songjiang District, while the Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway and the Shanghai-Nanjing Intercity Rail have two stations in Anting and Nanxiang in the northwest Jiading District. Jiading is currently making plans for these two stations. As planning takes quite some time, we should be able to take many details into account. Some urban plans have already taken shape while others are still in the drafting stage.