Population growth not sole reason Hong Kong needs to develop more land

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2016, 4:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2016, 10:27pm

Alex Lo’s column (“Land plan with more questions than answers”, December 10) misinterpreted “Hong Kong 2030 Plus”, an update of our land use strategy.

The key message in the public engagement document (www.hk2030plus.hk) is creating capacity for the sustainable growth of Hong Kong. We propose a land use strategy optimising existing land resources, and creating new land by reclamation at suitable locations. While exploiting development opportunities in degraded areas (for example, brownfields) and the urban fringe (near infrastructure support), we are also exploring longer-term growth areas. This would enable us to preserve our land with high ecological value in enhancing our environmental capacity.

This is in line with prevailing multi-pronged land supply initiatives. We are taking forward major developments in Hung Shui Kiu, Yuen Long south and Kwu Tung north/Fanling north to release 340 hectares of brownfields. “Hong Kong 2030 Plus” provides a framework that optimises the limited choices we have in meeting future needs. Two strategic growth areas of East Lantau Metropolis and New Territories north are proposed to make ends meet, with the former reclaiming land in the environmentally less sensitive waters and the latter utilising 200 hectares of brownfields.

There is a common misconception that any piece of land is developable. However, piecemeal development of scattered brownfields will not result in optimal land use. Comprehensive planning for compact development over a sizable area with a good mix of land uses and sufficient infrastructure and supporting facilities is needed. We therefore focus on areas where brownfields concentrate.

Land is the carrier of all activities. Our need for more land to ensure the proper functioning of our city does not come solely from population growth. New land to meet the needs of household growth, economic development, an ageing society and aspirations for a better living environment is also required. The 8.22 million population by 2043 is only one scenario in the government’s official projections; the high-growth scenario projects a population of 9.01 million by 2046 and 9.11 million by 2064. “Hong Kong 2030 Plus” must be robust enough to cater for uncertainties and changes.

Hong Kong has always faced the problem of acute land shortage, and each generation of Hong Kong people lives up to the challenge to find a smart solution. “Hong Kong 2030 Plus” provides a vehicle for us to be visionary in embracing opportunities. The Planning Department stands ready to work with Hong Kong people’s wisdom to devise the road map for our future.

Raymond Lee, director of planning