Assessing the social sustainability of Chinese urban neigbourhoods: a case study of Shenzhen

Wang, Yu
(2015) Assessing the social sustainability of Chinese urban neigbourhoods: a case study of Shenzhen. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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There is an increasing concern arising from China’s recent urban growth in terms of sustainability from environmental, economic and social perspectives. Huge numbers of new Chinese urban neighbourhoods have been built during the past 20 years with great spatial and social changes in this process compared with the past. However, little attention has been paid to assess the planning and development of these new neighbourhoods against social sustainable criterion. This research aims to evaluate the social sustainability of new Chinese neighbourhoods and discuss its association with patterns of urban form and related planning processes. A new conceptual framework of social sustainability was developed from the relevant sustainable research based upon the Western experiences and adapted to the Chinese urban context. It included three layers, resident’s basic needs, inner social networks and the entire community development for which detailed indicators could be generated as the basis for empirical social sustainability assessments. An embedded case study methodology was applied to Shenzhen, a new megacity rising from China’s rapid urbanisation process. The methodology consisted of two-phase case studies and utilised multiple survey methods. The city-level focused on understanding the macro-context policies related to neighbourhood development process and the general spatial characteristics of urban form, in which typical patterns could be identified for neighbourhood case selection. Then neighbourhood-level case studies in the Houhai-Dengliang area were used to appraise their levels of social sustainability. The analysis suggests that there is nexus between urban form and social sustainability, with the recently emerging highly-segmented and over-intensified developments being the least socially sustainable form. Defects in the current neighbourhood development mechanisms are further identified based on the clear evidence. The research recommends that the ‘site scale’ and ‘density’ needs to be effectively controlled for new neighbourhoods, within medium ranges, if the best level of social sustainability are to be achieved. For many existing neighbourhoods, evidence also indicates that adopting a collaborative planning approach can be a pathway towards a more socially sustainable development.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Divisions: Fac of Science & Engineering > Faculty of Science and Engineering
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2016 09:27
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2016 09:27
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