More space, fewer people in HK's future view

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 12:00am

Slowing population growth has given Hong Kong the chance to create a better, more spacious living environment, according to the government's development blueprint for 2030.

The planning study, unveiled yesterday, focuses on three main goals - providing a quality living environment, enhancing economic competitiveness and strengthening links with the mainland.

Unlike previous decades, Hong Kong's population growth is expected to slow in the next 30 years, with the population hitting 9.2 million by 2030 - four million of whom will be working.

Most of the growth is attributed to immigrants as the birth rate will continue to decline.

But the number of transients - people who stay for one to three months - will be three times greater than now, hitting 540,000.

Other than the population forecast, the study also predicts that a total of 3.1 million square feet of prime office space and 5.5 million square feet of general office space will be needed by 2030.

To accommodate the housing and commercial land needs, the study puts forward two options for development - based on decentralisation or centralisation.

Under the centralisation option, no new town development in the New Territories would be required before 2020, with five new towns needed after that. Most of the land needs would be satisfied by urban renewal and the Southeast Kowloon development.

The decentralisation option, however, will speed up new town development in Hung Shui Kiu, Kwu Tung and Fanling before 2020, while their surrounding areas will be developed beyond 2020. But each of the new towns will house only about 100,000 people.

The government has also pledged that no new land will be reclaimed along the harbour, except from the three reclamation projects under scrutiny and review.

Under the blueprint, the plot ratio - which regulates the total floor space built on a site - will be significantly lowered. Planning officials said this would help address public aspirations for more living space as 60 per cent of the city's 6.8 million people now live in urban areas.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the permanent secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, said there was a price to pay for lower density in terms of land-use efficiency.

'Land will not be fully utilised and therefore we need to find more land [to accommodate the needs].'

She said the plan, to undergo public consultation, did not take the budget deficit into account.


A university town proposed in Kam Tin or Kwu Tung

A 'trade expo' set up on the border near Lok Ma Chau

New port development in Tsing Yi, Tuen Mun or Lantau

Lowering the development density in the city

New towns within the closed border areas

No further harbour reclamation for housing development