Urbanisation, housing demand and densification : a case study of Shenyang, China
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Since the 1990s, China has experienced rapid urbanisation, shifting a massive amount of the rural population into cities. Such urbanisation not only boosts urban economies but also has the potential to enhance people’s living conditions. Urban housing, as a hot social-economic topic, has been discussed and analysed by many scholars. Due to a process of rapid urbanisation, housing demand in Chinese cities has experienced tremendous growth, in order the meet people’s housing requirements, especially after the national housing reform in the 1990s. Due to this increasing housing demand, the existing housing stock and new housing constructions have resulted in increasing housing densities and intensive urban land-uses, in turn leading to housing densification in large cities. Shenyang, as the largest city in the northeast of China, has a total population of over 8 million people; with an urban population of 6 million; this is an ongoing and increasing trend. This magnitude of population places pressure on urban issues, and housing is considered to be the most influenced section. The new housing constructions being built to fulfil the increasing demand for houses in Shenyang, along with existing housing stocks, have resulted in a high-density urban form. Considering the Shenyang Urban Overall Development Proposed Plan 2011-2020, the city aims to position itself as not only an economic and financial centre but also an integrated transportation and information hub for the northeast of China. The plan also seeks to limit the residential land-use inside the urban core. This situation, with increasing urbanisation, will intensify specific housing issues, such as high housing demand, increasing housing prices and excessive high density living. With those concerns in mind, this thesis aims to research and discuss these urban issues in Shenyang, focusing on rapid urbanisation, housing demand, and housing densification. Based on empirical urbanisation models, the thesis confirms the significance of economic factors and housing investment to urbanisation. With a further discussion on migration, the thesis explains that Shenyang’s urbanisation is not only a simply spontaneous action of rural-urban migration but also acutely shaped by political behaviour. The thesis also explains that Shenyang has abilities and advantages to attract even more migrants. Focusing on housing investment, the thesis analyses different sources of investment and highlights the importance of the role of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in existing and future housing development. Using housing demand models, it is concluded that housing in Shenyang is still a life necessity rather than investment goods for people. The income discussion shows the transformation of people’s notions on housing from the old welfare housing provision to house purchasing, implying the significance of the Housing Provident Fund (HPF) system. The housing price discussion explains the effects of the housing reform on housing prices and housing transactions, and it highlights migration as the main source of population growth, leading to increased housing demand and prices. The demographic analysis shows that household size has an influential impact on Shenyang’s housing demand and that increasing marriage competition leads to a demand for housing for families with sons and newly married couples. The thesis also analyses commuting costs and residential expenditures, which help to explain people’s preference to settle further away from the city centre and people’s notions about residential expenditures at different stages of housing development. Based on different levels of spatial aggregation, the thesis investigates the housing densities for Shenyang. It is concluded that urban housing preferences are for high buildings and that housing densification occurs in both urban and suburban areas. Due to limited residential land, massive high-rise building projects are inevitable in Shenyang. The thesis also discusses housing vacancy, which has resulted in either massive new housing constructions and housing stock hoarding or increasing housing prices and the policy of restricting house purchases.