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Title: Are there alternatives to greenbelts? : evidence from a new land-use transport interaction model for Greater Beijing
Author: Ma, Mingfei
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 0289
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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Urban greenbelts are considered a key instrument for shaping sustainable urban growth and protecting the environment in a large number of cities in the world. In most cities, there is a widely shared belief that urban greenbelts are beneficial to the natural environment. By contrast, there is little understanding of the underlying economic impacts of greenbelts and other green space configurations in fast growing cities. The unprecedented rate and scale of urbanisation in the emerging economies has brought the role of greenbelts into an even sharper focus. In cities within these fast growing economies, the urban population is expected to double in the coming decades, which means that greenbelts are under great pressures to adapt to the large forthcoming growth. Few existing urban models are capable of addressing the dynamic nature of the urban transformations and predicting the impacts of urban greenbelts in the developing world. This prompts us to develop a new modelling method that is capable of assessing the impacts of different configurations, scales and locations of green spaces. We then use it to examine alternative futures to the greenbelt through a case study of Greater Beijing. The method we developed is a new variant in the land use-transport interaction (LUTI) model family. This model is capable of addressing the non-equilibrium nature of urban land use and transport development and the equilibrium nature of the day-to-day adaptations made by businesses and citizens. This LUTI model aims to answer the following questions: what are the short-term and long-term economic impacts of a greenbelt on a fast growing city? Which alternative green space configuration performs better in terms of economic well-being and travel costs? Where and how much should the greenbelt land be progressively reshaped or released as the city grows? The new LUTI model is calibrated and validated using data collected for 1990, 2000 and 2010 for Greater Beijing, The model is first tested retrospectively through revisiting the past greenbelt policies in Beijing from 1990 to 2010. Then the impacts of different future green space configurations from 2010 to 2030 are predicted and assessed through quantifying economic costs/benefits and travel costs for socio-economic groups. The model results suggest that under rapid transformative urban change, the configuration, scale and location of a greenbelt have a significant impact on a city’s economic efficiency. Such impacts will transcend the greenbelt boundary, and even the boundary of Beijing Municipality, onto the entire city region. A narrow greenbelt launched in the early age of urban expansion could lead to spatial mismatch of residents and jobs. A wide and strictly controlled ring-shaped greenbelt is not the highest performing intervention either, in terms of economic well-being. The green-wedges configuration is a remedial policy that balances the economic efficiency and environmental benefits. Intensive development around metro/rail stations in the designated greenbelt could reduce spatial costs and promote sustainable travel modes. This implies that a careful siting of new development within existing designations of the greenbelt can be beneficial in terms of economic well-being and sustainable transport.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: CSC Cambridge International Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Land use - transport interaction model ; Greenbelt ; Green-wedges ; urban sprawl ; LUTI model ; General equilibrium model ; Beijing ; urban expansion ; urban containment policy ; green space configuration