New regulation signals China to add fewer skyscrapers

"Strictly control new super high-rise buildings"

The last Pekingnology newsletter looks at a new government rule (Mandarin) from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development that requires halting large-scale demolition and construction in Chinese cities.

This one is brief. The same Ministry on September 10 began soliciting public opinions on a draft regulatory document that will significantly de-incentivize building skyscrapers. Below is a partial translation.

Please note this is a draft and NOT yet in effect and may be amended later - public opinions can be submitted until September 23. But the message is abundantly clear and the requirements are very specific.

As always, Pekingnology should not be considered as a Chinese official source.

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《关于加强超高层建筑规划建设管理的通知(征求意见稿)》

Notice on Strengthening the Planning, Construction, and Management of

Super High-rise Buildings (Draft to Solicit Public Opinion)

The construction and use of super high-rise buildings in China have played an active role in making intensive use of land resources, advancing technological progress of construction projects, and promoting urban economic and social development. However, in recent years, some cities built super high-rise buildings to compete with one another, blindly pursuing ranking first in height and peculiar forms, in disregard of actual needs, which resulted in increased cost and input, energy consumption aggravation, and more difficulty in safety management. In order to implement the new development concept, coordinate development and safety, change the mode of urban development and construction, scientifically plan, construct, and manage super high-rise buildings, and promote the high-quality development of cities, relevant matters are notified as follows:

1、Strictly control new super high-rise buildings

(1) Strictly control the height of buildings

All localities shall strictly control the construction of new super high-rise buildings. Generally, it is not allowed to build new super high-rise residential buildings. Cities with permanent residents of fewer than 3 million in urban areas shall strictly restrict the construction of new super high-rise buildings of higher than 150 meters, and shall not build new super high-rise buildings of higher than 250 meters. 

Cities with permanent residents of more than 3 million in urban areas shall strictly restrict the construction of new super high-rise buildings over 250 meters, and shall not build new super high-rise buildings over 500 meters. 

When examining and approving construction projects of residential buildings over 80 meters and public buildings over 100 meters, relevant local departments shall solicit the opinions of local fire rescue agencies to ensure that the projects are within the local fire rescue capabilities. 

If it is really necessary to build new super high-rise buildings of higher than 150 meters in cities with permanent residents of fewer than 3 million in urban areas, the projects shall be examined by the provincial housing and urban-rural development department and submitted to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development for record-keeping. 

If it is really necessary to build new super high-rise buildings of higher than 250 meters in cities with permanent residents of more than 3 million in urban areas, the provincial housing, and urban-rural construction department shall strictly assess and examine the projects with the focus on their earthquake resistance and fire protection, and submit them to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development for record-keeping and approvals.

(2) Reasonably determine the layout of the architects

All localities shall take the urban spatial pattern and functional layout into consideration to make overall plans for the construction of high-rise and super high-rise buildings and concentrate them relatively. We shall strictly control the construction of high-rise buildings in key areas such as ecologically sensitive and natural sightseeing spots and shall not build super high-rise buildings at the hillside, waterside, or on the urban ventilation corridors. We shall not build new high-rise buildings in places that would have impacts on historical and cultural blocks, historical areas, world cultural heritage sites, and important cultural relics units under protection. In old cities, we shall not build super high-rise buildings in areas that have high development intensity, dense population, and traffic congestion.

(3) Deepen and refine the evaluation and demonstration

All localities should fully evaluate and demonstrate the risks and negative impacts of super high-rise building construction. We shall strengthen the traffic impact assessment of super high-rise building construction projects to avoid aggravating traffic congestion, especially in areas where super high-rise buildings are concentrated. We shall strengthen the environmental impact assessment of super high-rise building construction projects, prevent the aggravation of the urban heat island effect, and avoid the formation of light pollution and high-rise canyon wind. We shall strengthen the evaluation of personnel evacuation and emergency response plans of super high-rise buildings, arranging the disaster prevention and refuge sites of super high-rise buildings in a concentrated manner nearby, with an average area of no less than 1.5 square meters per person. We shall strengthen the energy-saving management of super high-rise buildings to ensure that the plane utilization rate of standard floors shall not be less than 80%, and the level of green buildings shall not be less than the 3-star standard.

(4) Strengthen the management of public investment

All localities should strictly implement relevant regulations on government investment. Generally, it is not allowed to approve the use of public funds to invest in the construction of super high-rise buildings.

In cities with permanent residents of fewer than 3 million in urban areas, state-owned enterprises and public institutions to invest in the construction of super high-rise buildings of higher than 150 meters shall be under strict control.

In cities with permanent residents of more than 3 million in urban areas, state-owned enterprises and public institutions to invest in the construction of super high-rise buildings of higher than 250 meters shall be under strict control.

(5) Perform decision-making responsibilities in earnest

We shall implement the system of lifelong accountability for decision-making in super high-rise buildings. Construction projects of new super high-rise buildings of more than 150 meters in cities with permanent residents of fewer than 3 million in urban areas and new super high-rise buildings of more than 250 meters in cities with permanent residents of more than 3 million in urban areas shall be submitted to the respective city’s Communist Party Committee and government for examination and approval as major public construction projects in accordance with the Interim Regulations on Major Administrative Decision-making Procedures [ENG] (Order No.713 of the State Council), and the accountability for these buildings shall be lifelong.

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Again, the above is just a partial translation of the draft document (Mandarin).

Two minor notes that you may well have taken:

1) There are three thresholds in the height of the buldings: 150 meters, 250 meters, 500 meters where different restrictions apply. Higher than 500 meters

2) There is one threshold in terms of population in evaluating Chinese cities here - permanent residents of 3 million in urban areas.

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Translated by Alexander Wang and copyedited & reviewed by Zichen Wang. Don’t hesitate to reply should you have any questions, suggestions, or criticism.

A guest post by
Journalist from "China state-affiliated media"