Develop old factories in Hong Kong, but not country parks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 12:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 7:52pm

In his farewell policy address, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying suggested that we think outside the box regarding Hong Kong’s housing shortage.

Your editorial (“Sacrifices needed on housing issue”, January 24) suggests the same thing, meaning we should build houses in our beloved country parks. Rather than thinking outside the box, this is a short-sighted solution which avoids upsetting tycoons, landowners and property developers. The property developers must be rubbing their hands together in glee.

A few weeks ago, some flats went on sale in Tsuen Wan and all 400 were snapped up on the first day. Clearly there is a high demand for housing, but how many of these flats were bought as homes? How many were bought as rental investments or to be left empty as a speculative investment, helping to drive up prices?

There are plenty of brownfield sites that could be cleaned up and reused but often seem to be ignored. The Wang Chau development was an interesting case in point where phase one ate up land occupied by villagers, but plans for phases two and three, which were to be built on a brownfield site owned by someone much more important, were deferred.

With most of Hong Kong’s manufacturing industries having headed to the mainland, the city now has a large supply of empty warehouses and factories ripe for renovation as housing. And then we have the small-house policy, which sees large tracts of land covered in three-storey houses, many no doubt owned by indigenous villagers living abroad.

Land is eaten up by this ludicrous rule which no one has the courage to overturn.

On the same day as your editorial, there was an article about the growing interest in hiking in the country parks (“Crawl of the wild”). As the population rises, there is greater demand for housing but also a greater demand for open spaces in which to escape.

There are plenty of people in Hong Kong who regard the country parks as wasted space preventing good, honest property developers from building more houses.

Others argue that they only want to take a small fraction of the country parks so no one will notice. Then in a few years’ time they will again only want to take a small fraction of the country parks so no one will notice – and so it goes on, again and again.

Andy Statham, Happy Valley