New World Development

New World Development's Henry Cheng willing to donate land for flats

New World's Cheng willing to study giving the government sites for flats the young can afford

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 4:52pm

Make that two property tycoons willing to consider giving away a chunk of their land holdings.

A day after Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee confirmed he was in talks with the government about donating land for cheap homes, New World Development chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun said his company was willing to consider doing the same.

"The proposal can assist young people to become homeowners and we are willing to study if we can take part in it," Cheng said yesterday.

However, he said the amount of farmland his company owned was small compared with the size of Henderson's land bank. New World would need to study which sites would be suitable for the proposed scheme.

According to New World's annual report for 2011-2012, the developer had about 20.4 million square feet in agricultural land reserves in areas including Yuen Long, Fanling, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun and Sai Kung.

By comparison, Henderson's land bank in the New Territories comprised about 42.4 million square feet in June last year - the largest holding among all property developers in Hong Kong. About 9.1 million square feet of its holdings are in the Hung Shiu Kiu and northeastern New Territories development areas, both of which were identified by the government last year as areas for growth.

Last month, Lee said Henderson Land would consider building low-cost homes in the New Territories for first-time buyers if the government waived the land premium it would normally levy when a developer changes the use of a parcel of land - in this case, from agricultural to housing.

Lee's initial idea was to build flats of about 300 sq ft, priced at HK$1 million each, to help young people become homeowners

The administration reportedly made a counterproposal that Henderson Land give it the land so affordable government flats could be built. Lee is said to be open to the idea as long as the housing is intended for young home seekers.

On Friday, the Development Bureau said the government was open to suggestions about ways to boost property supply and satisfy the public's housing needs.