Property tycoon Lee Shau-kee is considering donating farmland to the government to use for affordable housing, his company confirmed on Friday.
Henderson Land Development, one of the city's largest developers, said it had been in talks with the government about the plan, but it gave no details of the location, size or number of pieces of land Lee would donate.
The statement came about a month after Lee, Henderson's chairman, said his company would consider building homes in the New Territories with a price tag of only HK$1 million each for first-time homebuyers, as long as the government would exempt it from paying a land premium.
"If the government waives land-premium charges on farmland modifications, we hopefully can build flats of 300 sq ft at a price of HK$1 million each," he said at the time.
Yesterday, Ming Pao reported that Lee had contacted the government before the Lunar New Year about his proposal. The government in turn proposed that the billionaire donate his farmland for low-priced flats.
The newspaper cited sources saying Lee was favourable towards the counter-proposal, provided such flats were targeted at young homebuyers.
The Development Bureau said yesterday the government was open to suggestions about ways to boost supply and satisfy the public's housing needs.
"In regard to suggestions from a certain developer, we will actively consider the proposal, but we will also need to study whether it is feasible in terms of town planning, transportation, the environment, infrastructure and so on," a spokeswoman said.
Professor Eddie Hui Chi-man of Polytechnic University's building and real-estate department said it would be better if the developer could donate the land to the government for development, instead of letting the developer build low-priced flats with land premium waivers.
"Some farmland is not very accessible, so if the government can obtain the sites and develop them, together with other infrastructure and facilities in the area, the town planning can be better," he said.
Henderson Land's reserves in the New Territories are the largest among all Hong Kong property developers.