Conservation Plans: Understanding Historic Cultural City and Stakeholders' Perceptions
Urban planning intended to conserve cities’ valuable past, both areas and structures, is challenging due to the need to find a balance between preserving urban heritage and fulfilling development needs. In China, efforts to preserve cities designated to be Historic Cultural Cities (HCCs) are affected by HCC planning mechanism (HCCPMs), which have been developed to protect the cities’ significant value as a whole. In this study, policies in HCC conservation plans are evaluated on their amount of detail and are compared to stakeholders’ expectations. A case study is carried out for areas in the City of Beijing. Findings of this study include the following: a general level of the detail used in HCC conservation plans; this level of detail ranges distinctively in various policy categories and HCC classes; stakeholders desire a higher level of detail than currently exists in the conservation plans; different expectations exist among stakeholder groups (residents, participants from the central districts, and participant without planning knowledge). Five statements can be reflected from the general level of detail: 1) urban conservation is not a primary concern in HCCs; 2) plan objectives were achieved in HCC plans; 3) the public did not effectively impact planning decisions; 4) little financial and human resources support exists for conservation activities; 5) the written legislative guidance is inaccurate. The differences in stakeholders’ expectation and the current plans reveal the failure to achieve public participation goals such as transparency and democracy. Recommendations are provided on improving plan quality and public participation in Historic Cultural Cities to better serve for urban conservation in Chinese cities.