National pilot project revives rural areas
The Chongqing Country Land Exchange is a national pilot project to revitalise rural areas in inland cities. The project allows landowners to transfer the land use in an open market and it was established in November 2008 with the approval of the State Council.
The exchange is expected to solve the mismatch in the supply and demand of land for redevelopment. In inland areas, many farmers have migrated to the cities for work, resulting in plenty of abandoned areas, but urban redevelopment is often held back by a shortage of land.
According to government officials, residents in rural areas have an average living area of 250 square metres, compared with 80 square metres for their urban counterparts. Therefore, if 10 million people move to the cities, this will free up 2.5 billion square metres of land for redevelopment. The project is designed to protect the rights and interests of rural residents, who can decide to transfer their abandoned land. The selling price is decided by the market.
To protect rural residents, a landowner who wishes to transfer his or her land must prove that he or she has a stable living place and good living conditions. The owner also needs to obtain approval from relevant local co-operatives. For land owned by co-operatives, the transfer must be agreed by two-thirds of members.
Trading at the land exchange is in the form of 'land tickets' for auction. The abandoned land will first be reclaimed and then examined by the land management and agricultural departments, before a 'land ticket' is issued to the owner. The 'land ticket' is then scheduled for auction at the exchange. A developer who has successfully bid for the 'land ticket' must also ensure that the redevelopment of the land meets the requirements of city planning departments. The first bid took place on December 4, 2008. Two 'land tickets' with an area of 733,000 square metres were sold for 89.89 million yuan (HK$107.562 million).