Unsuccessful Urban Governance of Brownfield Land Redevelopment: A Lesson From the Toxic Soil Event in Changzhou, China
A public health crisis in the process of brownfield land redevelopment (BLR) has frequently appeared in the context of promoting industrial upgrading and de-industrialization in China. Recent discussions on the reasons for this problem centered on the lack of laws, standards, and policies needed to secure the process of BLR. However, we argue that an urban governance approach to BLR can identify the sources of the problem. This paper discusses a case study of a toxic soil event in Changzhou, China, based on the theoretical framework - the Institutional Industry Complex (IIC). Under the pressure of fiscal distress as well as the requirements of economic growth and urbanization, local governments in China are bound with fiscal revenue from land development and land urbanization and have formed a pro-growth alliance with enterprises, property developers, and even the public. The alliance is defined as the pro-growth IIC of land finance regime in this paper. Due to the path-dependence of the IIC, the conventional pro-growth IIC of land finance regime in China has been circulated, and then transformed into a pro-growth IIC of BLR. As a result, the goal of the pro-growth IIC of BLR is maximizing profit in the process of land development, a goal that is the same as the pro-growth IIC of land finance regime Thus, as the pivotal stockholders of the pro-growth IIC of BLR, local governments, enterprises, and property developers hesitate to pursue a prudent and secure BLR process, which effectively attenuates a series of serious environmental issues and public health crises. That is the root cause of the problem. This study suggests a positive interaction between central and local government, as well as between enterprise and the public to create a sustainable IIC of BLR in future.