Opening gated communities to public sparks online debate

Updated: 2016-02-22 16:36

By Guo Kai(

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Opening gated communities to public sparks online debate

Real estate investment growth fell to 2 percent in the first 10 months of this year, acting as a drag on GDP growth. Provided to China Daily

A recent central government guideline on urban planning has sparked heated debate among Internet users over opening up gated residential communities to public road system, with an online poll showing that a majority of participants oppose it.

The Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, or the cabinet, issued the guideline on February 21 in an effort to treat the problems associated with the country's urbanization and the growth of city sprawl.

The guideline can be considered as a roadmap made for city development, following the December's Central Urban Work Conference, the first such meeting on the issue since 1978 when only 18 percent of the country's population lived in cities. Some 50 percent of the population was living in cities by the end of last year.

The guideline said that the roads in the newly established communities will be open to the public, becoming part of the urban road system, and the old communities will gradually connect their roads to the public roads. That is to better utilize the urban land and optimize the urban road network.

The news on gated communities triggered an uproar among netizens. Since the CCTV News published the news on Sina Weibo, a twitter-like microblogging site in China, at 8:15 pm Sunday, it had been forwarded 15,000 times and generated 3,600 comments by 10 am Monday morning.

Many Internet users have expressed concern over the potential risks from opening up the gated communities, including noise and air pollution, traffic congestion and public safety.

One Internet user said that such highlight in the guideline might violate the country's property law, since the home owners also paid for the roads in the communities when they bought the apartments.

An article of the country's property law says that the roads in a community belong to home owners of the community, excluding the roads belonging to the urban road system.

An online poll of some 20,000 participants on the news portal showed that about 75 percent did not support opening up the gated communities, and only about 18 percent chose to support.

About 65 percent chose the safety concern over their health and assets as the top issue to go against the guideline. Some 85 percent of participants expressed that the home owners in old communities that would open to the public roads should get compensation.

Most of the gated communities were built in two periods, one around 1950s when enterprises and communities built enclosed quarters and the other since 1990s when real estate developers started building such communities for individuals.

Some experts voiced support to the new policy and said communities should share their public facilities.

The gated communities are a reflection of the farming culture and they look like independent kingdoms, not sharing public service facilities with others, said Yang Baojun, vice-president of China Academy of Urban Planning and Design.

But modern cities are open, featured with public activities and public space, he said. He suggested that the old communities could gradually open to pedestrians first and then bike riders.

But other experts showed restraints over the new policy.

Xu Xin, a law professor from the Beijing Institute of Technology, said that demanding old communities to open roads to the public was "unreasonable and illegal".

Home owners have the property right to the roads in old communities, which are protected by the country's laws, and the government could not demand them to open, Xu said. But new communities could be built with roads linking to the public road system, without problems, he said.

Yuan Qifeng, a professor from Sun Yat-sen University, said that in the future the government should clearly tell developers which roads are in the public system and which are private in communities since all communities are open then.