Urban planning crucial for better housing development
There has been strong public criticism of the chief executive and sometimes his integrity has been questioned.
However, despite these attacks it cannot be denied that he has tried to honour his pledge to boost housing supply in order to ensure more Hongkongers have a decent place to live. Sites were carefully chosen, targets were set and plot ratio of residential buildings increased. But the effort to meet the target number of flats to be built has suffered setbacks.
Kwai Tsing District Council opposed the building of new flats on sites originally reserved for recreational use [and a minibus station]. Sham Shui Po District Council objected to rezoning a green belt site for housing.
The misgivings expressed by citizens in some districts are justified. Pushing up building density will inevitably exacerbate the already grave problem of overcrowding. A lack of backup facilities in various areas such as commerce, recreation and the environment to cope with soaring numbers of residents is also a cause for concern.
Lessons can be learned from the way in which Tin Shui Wai was developed. It has a large population, but not even one hospital. Any resident needing medical attention has to be admitted to a hospital in Tuen Mun, which has long queues in its accident and emergency department.
Most Tin Shui Wai residents face long commutes to and from work and so create a relatively high carbon footprint.
Officials must look at the Tin Shui Wai example and realise that plans to boost housing supply should go hand in hand with meticulous urban planning in order to avoid the problem of urban sprawl.
Our city should be a place not just where citizens have a place to live, but can also enjoy a high quality of life. If the government does not learn from past errors, they will be repeated and ordinary Hongkongers will suffer as a result.
Jack Tang Ching, Tin Shui Wai