Understanding the Role of Edge Cities in the Application of Polycentric Development in China’s Mega City Regions

Cheng, Hui
(2018) Understanding the Role of Edge Cities in the Application of Polycentric Development in China’s Mega City Regions. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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The term polycentricity originally emerged in the West, but with multiple meanings. More recently, the concept of polycentricity has been increasingly invoked as a policy idea, seeking balanced development within both cities, and more broadly, regions. Consequently, polycentricity has been applied to a variety of spatial plans at a number of different scales. Edge cities have become a part of the polycentric city regions used to try to create balanced development particularly at the intra-urban scale. Towards the end of 20th century, polycentricity and the edge city, were introduced as new planning concepts into China. Subsequently a number of super/mega city regions (shiyu) began to apply polycentric development spatial planning strategies designed to better facilitate more sustainable and balanced development. After more than fifteen years’ development, there is, however, little research available on how successful this application has been, and it remains unknown whether Chinese edge cities, at a local level, have been effectively planned and formed under the umbrella of upper level polycentric strategies. This research attempts to fill this gap by developing a conceptual framework for the application of polycentricity and a methodology for investigating it, at both the city regional and local scales with specific reference to the Chines context. More particularly the focus is to reveal and interpret the challenges and difficulties, from the perspective of planning and development, of Chinese edge cities. Methodologically, this research adopts an embedded case study approach. Initially eight super/mega city regions were selected across China based on when the application of polycentricity development first became evident. This macro policy analysis led to two more detailed city regions Guangzhou and Nanjing. After this, the formation of Chinese edge cities was explored at a local scale. This involved looking at the development trajectories of the selected Chinese edge cities through planned, unplanned or integrated processes, and also going beyond the subject of edge cities, and examining the dynamics behind their formation. The data were mainly drawn from documentary analyses of plans/policies and interviews with key stakeholders in China at both the city regional and local scales. The findings highlight the divergent interpretations of polycentricity in master planning practices at the city regional scale and show how plans have been adjusted to help deliver the idea of polycentric development. Although the concept of polycentricity is relatively new in China, it has also been a fuzzy and flexible term open to different interpretations as in the West. It has become a policy tool especially used in spatial planning to help promote land-centred urban policies, and to further facilitate central cities’ prosperity through spatial restructuring. At the local scale, the findings show three different development trajectories of the emerging Chinese edge cities in terms of three elements: spatial form, functional identity and governance arrangements. Major challenges in effectively delivering polycentric development strategies and in forming Chinese edge cities are recognised particularly from the perspective of key actors.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2018 13:38
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 01:31
DOI: 10.17638/03022836
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3022836