Balancing urban conservation and (re)development: tracing policy layering in the Mainland of China (1906-2023)

Xuelei Zhang*, Jurian Edelenbos, Alberto Gianoli

*Corresponding author for this work

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Urban conservation and (re)development can be conflicting or balanced. Governments’ dual role in conserving cultural heritage and promoting development makes balancing the urban conservation–(re)development relationship a dynamic process. After coding the policy documents issued by China’s governments from 1906 to 2023 with the conceptual framework of layering, the following conclusions are drawn: (1) core policies promote the development of the policy system; (2) policy evolution of heritage conservation is categorized into five phases and policy objects evolved from heritage conservation to institutional and capacity construction; (3) the layering of instruments and actors is analyzed in terms of changes to the layering approach, audience, and structure; (4) the dynamic relationship between urban conservation and development can be explained by the time-lag of heritage conservation policy-making in relation to the urban development stages and the gap between policy goals and implementation; (5) the evolution of heritage conservation policies with urban development stages is categorized as drift, stagnation, hysteresis, and adjustment connected with policy goal conversions. This research argues that the earlier friction between urban conservation and development shifted to a mutually beneficial convergence, but that balancing urban conservation and development is challenging in the context of power decentralization and pro-growth ideology.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Feb 2024

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© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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