China to restrict 'vanity project' skyscrapers

Cities with fewer than three million people will need approval to build towers taller than 150 metres

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Huge skyscrapers will be restricted in some Chinese cities as part of a crackdown on wasteful vanity projects by local governments.

Cities with populations of fewer than three million will not be allowed to build skyscrapers taller than 150 metres without extra approval, while cities with larger populations must not construct buildings higher than 250 metres, China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said.

China has some of the tallest buildings in the world, including the 632-metre Shanghai Tower and the 599-metre Ping An Finance Centre in Shenzhen.

A ban exists on building towers more than 500 metres.

Officials who approve such projects in violation of the new rule "will be held accountable for life", the ministry said, which would mean officials were subject to any future punishment decided in relation to the breach of rules.

While China acknowledges that high-rise buildings promote more intensive use of land resources, it is increasingly concerned that local officials are blindly pursuing construction with little attention to practicality and safety.

Earlier this year, a 356-metre, 71-storey tower in downtown Shenzhen repeatedly shook, raising concerns about safety. Investigations found the cause was a more than 50-metre tall mast on top of the building that moved in the wind.

Shortly after the incident, China imposed a nationwide ban in July on the construction of buildings exceeding 500 metres. The Shenzhen building reopened in September after the mast was dismantled.

Local governments must also inspect existing super-tall buildings, conducting checks on their foundation, structure, power, water and gas supply, the materials used, their resistance to earthquakes, and protection from fire, the ministry said.

Cities should also strictly control the construction of high-rise buildings in ecologically sensitive areas and on urban ventilation corridors, it said.

Updated: October 28, 2021, 11:15 AM