Commmunity Participation in Urban Conservation
This project aims to improve living conditions of the residents in the Old City area of Yangzhou through Sustainable Urban Conservation.
The project is designed to regenerate existing older neighbourhoods in the inner city, accommodating the needs of residents and reinforcing the cultural heritage of those areas by encouraging residents’ participation.
Initial research for the Community Participation in Urban Conservation programme began in 2004 as an extension of the Eco City Planning and Management Programme, a joint effort of the Yangzhou Municipal Government, GIZ (German Development Cooperation), and with later support by the Cities Alliance. In July 2006 implementation of the programme in the Old City of Yangzhou began in a pilot area.
This programme is a good example of citizen participation in urban governance with a community action plan. The strong partnership between the government of Yangzhou, the GIZ, and the citizens produced a successful regeneration of the inner city avoiding conflicts experienced in other Chinese cities during regeneration projects.
Background and objectives
- Identifying existing problems and repair potentials in residents home by conducting on-site visits, and contacting government agencies and institutions
- Determining discussion topics and organisation of the workshop
- Framework development to organise residents and encourage resident participation
- Organising a photography action “Old City in My Eyes” by giving residents disposable cameras and asking them to identify what they perceive as historical and non-historical elements in the Old City
- On the first day of the workshop, residents showed the photos from the “Old City in My Eyes” project, and discussed the historical and non-historical qualities of the streets, facades, and houses in the Old City. Residents were then asked questions relating to the historical qualities of the Old City, and problems were identified. Then, the costs and budgeting needs for upgrading the Old City were considered. Finally, the difficulty of implementing certain concerns was assessed, and priorities for upgrading were set.
- The second day of the workshop involved a field survey conducted by GIZ professionals, residents, and representatives from the neighbourhood committee. They identified problems and issues. Residents opened the doors of their homes for on-site observation.
- During the final day of the workshop, detailed action plans were developed. All concerns and issues were introduced and thoroughly discussed. The action plan addressed what she be done, who should be responsible, what measures should be taken, how the project will be financed, which policies could provide support, and when the upgrading should take place.
- The GIZ Work Team created a guideline for phased upgrading
- A master plan for development, which was revised according to residents’ suggestions
- An estimation of the needs and costs to renovate each house and made available to residents
- Representatives amongst the organisations, neighbourhood committee, and residents were selected as contact persons to provide oversight and insurance that the standards agreed upon during the workshop will be implemented
- Residents participated in the rehabilitation process actively, not only as beneficiaries, but as investors as well.
- Yangzhou Famous City Company (YFCC) as implementation partner
- The Old City Office as a coordination institution of the government joined the YFCC in the implementation of the program.
- GIZ international expert team provided policy and technical support.
Financing and resources
Results and impacts
- Residents became more aware of the conservation for the Old City and cultural heritages, and various actors reached a shared common understanding of the existing problems of the community.
- Residents prepared an action plan to implement short and medium term improvements in their housing environment.
- The novel approach and activities of CAP attracted attention from the local and other upper level media to have a wide coverage about the workshop, which has led to a wide discussion about the Old City conservation among more residents in Yangzhou.
- The municipal government paid much attention to the residents’ opinions, embraced and accepted the concepts and methodology of participation, and has argued for its further development and application through the entire Old City.
- Residents’ houses have been renovated, and infrastructure and open space of the old neighbourhoods have been improved. Majority of original residents have stayed within their neighbourhoods with their living conditions being improved.
- Participatory approach in Yangzhou has been recognized as a paradigm by many cities throughout China.
Barriers and challenges
The government lacks funds for upgrading large area historic neighbourhoods. Without participation and awareness of residents, the rehabilitation work would have been feasible, but efficient measures to involve residents are new for local government. In the past twenty years residents had been renovating houses on their own. But in the process insufficient recognition of the values of the historic area, as well as a lack of guidelines for residential house renovation had caused harm to the historic areas. An uncertainty about the future had resulted in a ‘wait and see’ attitude and reliance on the government for direction. These had constituted obstacles for residents’ participation. The focus of the project was to explore a new channel of public participation in old city upgrading, and more effectively encourage residents’ involvement in the upgrading of the historic old city and the improvement of their living conditions as well.
Lessons learned and transferability
- necessity to involve residents
- as incomes increase ability increases
- consider residents as ‘partners, not just beneficiaries’
- giving incentive to residents encourages a quicker response, compliance, and mobilisation
- involving the media is important because it builds awareness, gives confidence and status to the project
- waiting for high-level policy decision not useful, problems can be addressed in small test cases to guide higher-level policy considerations
- Integrated Urban Governance Manual (see the link below)
- Integrated Urban Governance Manual Annex (see the link below)