Pressure on Government to rezone industrial land
The Government will have a surplus of between 115 and 140 hectares of land intended for industrial use by 2011, some of which could be used to curb speculation in the residential sector, according to a consultant's study.
Government planners are under pressure to release more land for residential use to provide a supply-side solution to a year-long speculative boom in the sector.
Property agents say property prices for luxury flats measuring 1,000 square feet or more have increased by more than 50 per cent since October.
According to most analysts, an average family has to spend more than 80 per cent of its monthly income just to service mortgage payments.
Director of Lands Bob Pope has tried to cool speculation by promising that plenty of land would be coming on to the market in the future.
Director of Planning Peter Pun Kwok-shing held out little hope yesterday that a decision on rezoning the industrial space for residential would be made in the near future.
'It is not necessarily the case that the land will be rezoned for residential use.' He pointed out that planners had to think of infrastructure needs and see if facilities such as schools and roads existed before residential development could take place.
Mr Pun said Hong Kong still needed a supply of industrial land to cope with industrial growth.
He said the consultants had forecast a shortage of land for special industrial uses like business parks.
'Demand for these premises has been increasing in the face of high value-added and high technology areas, such as video and cordless phones, computers and related products,' he said.
He said it would be several months before the Government decided on which areas to rezone for residential use.
Rezoning industrial land to residential 'would help' bring down prices, but he said there were many factors to consider before making the zoning changes.
'We will consider each site according to its own merits. If a site is next to a factory there might be a pollution problem.' Principal Town Planner Ed Pryor agreed there was a serious residential housing problem in the territory, but said land use 'must reflect economic diversity'.
The Government said it would be looking into the consultants' recommendation to relax the percentage of total floor area to be used for ancillary office space in industrial premises from 30 per cent to 50 per cent.
The consultants are also recommending a wider definition of industrial space to include office functions.