Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2023, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (7): 1527-1552.doi: 10.1007/s11442-023-2141-7

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Land-use planning in China: Past, present, and future

CHEN Wanxu1,2(), PAN Sipei3, YE Xinyue4,*()   

  1. 1. Department of Geography, School of Geography and Information Engineering, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
    2. Research Center for Spatial Planning and Human-Environmental System Simulation, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
    3. School of Public Administration, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
    4. Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77840, USA
  • Received:2022-11-11 Accepted:2023-02-15 Online:2023-07-25 Published:2023-07-24
  • Contact: *Ye Xinyue (1974-), Professor, E-mail:
  • About author:Chen Wanxu (1989-), Associate Professor, specialized in resource and environment assessment and regional economic analysis. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42001187)


Under the framework of ecological civilisation, the formulation of territorial spatial planning (TSP) and improvement of spatial governance systems are of great practical significance. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, land-use planning (LUP) has experienced profound changes, and tremendous research efforts have been made in that field. However, systematic studies on LUP history are scarce. To bridge the existing gap, this study traced back to the emergence of LUP, described its practice stages, and analysed the evolution of its classification system and methods. Further, the three rounds of general LUP practice and the current TSP over the past 40 years of the reform and opening-up have been discussed. The evolution of LUP was found to be closely related to economic development and could be broadly divided into four stages. The development of land-use classification in China has been slow and can be divided into five stages according to the evolution of the land classification system and important historical events. The development of LUP methods can be divided into two stages, before and after 1978. Since the economic reform, China has successively conducted three rounds of general LUP under different institutional and policy backgrounds. Future development should aim to innovate the theories and methods of TSP with Chinese characteristics and promote the study of village planning and the construction of TSP systems to achieve rural revitalisation and ecological civilisation.

Key words: land-use planning, land-use policy, territorial spatial planning, sustainable development, China