Green group demands quota for small flats

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 August, 2010, 12:00am

A green group is calling for restrictions on developers that would require them to set aside at least 70 per cent of flats in a new project for small or medium-sized units.

Green Sense said developers in recent years had focused on the luxury flat market to take advantage of the influx of mainland cash at the expense of Hong Kong end-users.

The group defines a three-bedroom flat as a 'large' or 'luxury' unit.

'Developers are aiming to lure [mainland] buyers. But they are mostly investors, if not speculators, and will rarely move in. It results in a waste of land resources,' said the group president Roy Tam Hoi-pong.

Centaline Property Agency research this year showed that mainlanders snapped up almost one in five flats worth more than HK$10 million sold in Hong Kong last year.

Tam also criticised the MTR Corporation for adding 'fuel to the fire' by having a high proportion of large flats in its projects with developers.

Recent research by the group found that in 14 of the 19 MTR projects completed in the past decade more than half the flats were three-bedroom units.

In three developments - Le Prestige and Le Prime in Tseung Kwan O, and Festival City in Tai Wai - all of the units, totalling about 4,500 flats, had three bedrooms, with an average size of 770 square feet and 794 square feet.

'The government is the major shareholder of the corporation and it has the responsibility to ask the corporation to offer more smaller units to cater for Hong Kong buyers,' Tam said.

He called for new restrictions in the land lease requiring that at least 70 per cent of flats be small or medium-size, between 500 square feet to 600 square feet each.

However, Alvin Lam, a director of Midland Surveyor, said: 'I can hardly imagine there should be under-500-square-foot flats in a project in Southern district or Mid-Levels.'

Amid public concern over risks of a property bubble, the government and the banking regulator on Friday announced new measures to rein in property prices.

The measures, announced before the sale of two Kowloon sites tomorrow, include a ban on resales of new flats before the initial transaction is completed, and limiting mortgage lending for properties costing HK$12 million or more to 60 per cent of a property's value.

Meanwhile, a site near West Rail Long Ping station in Yuen Long has been identified for a pilot scheme under which land sale conditions will be set for the number and size of small and medium-sized flats to be built. The Development Bureau said it expected the site to be put up for tendering early next year.

Size matters

Average size of flats built above 24 MTR stations since 2001, in square feet: 893