Everyone must make sacrifices if Hong Kong is to hit flats target
Increasingly, the "not in my backyard" mentality has become an obstacle to new developments in various spheres. From landfill expansion to columbarium construction, the projects are facing growing resistance at district level. Recently, the syndrome has spilled over to housing development, raising concerns about whether the government can hit its housing target. In another blow to the government, Kwai Tsing District Council opposed the construction of new flats on sites previously reserved for community facilities and a small park. This follows objections from Sham Shui Po District Council to rezoning a green belt site for housing. Similarly, the government has given up on an unpopular plan to convert a community site for private flats in Tai Po.
That three district councils have objected to new housing projects in their neighbourhoods is regrettable. Such a mindset sits oddly with the community consensus to ease the housing shortage by building more affordable flats across the city.
Various reasons are used to block developments, but none appears to be convincing. For instance, the councillors in Kwai Tsing said the district was already crowded. They were also concerned about the additional burden on traffic. However valid the reasons may be, they are not unique to the neighbourhoods. Over the years, much of the urban area has already been built up. It is difficult to find a place where development will not affect the environment or people.
Understandably, no one wants to live near a landfill or columbarium. Nor does anyone want their quality of living to suffer as a result of development nearby. But the pressure to build more housing is growing. A government task force has estimated that as many as 470,000 new flats are needed in the next decade. Every district has a responsibility to take on the challenge. We need solutions rather than excuses.
Saying no to development is hardly the answer to our housing shortage. Unless everyone is willing to share responsibility and make sacrifices, the housing target cannot be achieved and Hong Kong as a whole will suffer.