Land grant for homes 'not enough to halt speculators'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 April, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 April, 1997, 12:00am

More land was released for homes yesterday - but the 12 hectares allocated by the Sino-British Land Commission was criticised as not being enough.

The commission's latest land grant programme, involving 98.8 hectares in all, covers the three months up to the handover.

However, about 5.5 hectares is for two low-density residential developments providing about 200 luxury flats.

Another 4.5 hectares is set aside for subsidised housing - such as the Private Sector Participation Scheme and Housing Society developments - while just 2.3 hectares is allocated for commercial-residential use.

Of the bulk of land granted yesterday, 0.33 of a hectare goes for industrial use, 1.42 hectares for public utilities and 84.8 hectares for 'special requirements'.

Included under the latter category is an area of 70.2 hectares for Container Terminal 9.

The Democratic Party's housing spokesman, legislator Lee Wing-tat, said the 'insignificant' growth in residential land contradicted pledges to increase supply to ease housing shortages.

He added: 'The total amount of residential land use in 1996 was about 45 hectares. A quarterly grant of 12 hectares in this programme would make a total of 48 hectares a year. How can they justify their pledges with only three hectares growth?' Mr Lee feared the wrong message would be sent to speculators about government attempts to correct the property market.

The general secretary of the Real Estate Developers' Association, Wai Siu-yu, said the group would not comment because the allocation did not offer a long-term projection of supply.

He and Mr Lee called for the publication of a five-year land grant programme for a clearer picture of long-term supply.

But the commission's chief mainland representative, Chen Rongchun, said China had always demonstrated its concern for the territory's housing problems.

He said: 'We have been lenient on the granting of residential land. The programme has always taken into account Hong Kong's economic and social needs.' Mr Chen's British counterpart, Bowen Leung Po-wing, described it as a 'good agreement'.