Target for new flats 'should be raised to 470,000'

Committee says plan to build 447,000 homes in next 10 years underestimated city's real needs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 August, 2013, 4:14am

A housing committee has advised the government to increase its 10-year housing production target of 447,000 flats to 470,000.

"Committee members agreed the target should be slightly raised," said Anthony Cheung Bing-leung as he concluded the work of the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee yesterday. "We will reassess components of the demand forecast. We don't want to underestimate or overestimate the situation."

Although Cheung declined to reveal the revised target, a source said it was 470,000.

The current target of 447,000 was derived after a consultant advised the committee a few weeks earlier that the city would need this number of new homes in the next decade because of population growth and redevelopment. But committee members later said the consultant's forecast was lower than required because it had underestimated the number of redevelopment projects, as well as the number of families living in subdivided flats in old buildings to be rebuilt.

The new construction target is among a range of recommendations included in a public consultation paper to be released early next month. Yesterday, the committee met to wrap up discussions on the paper. It agreed public rental and subsidised housing should make up 60 per cent of the supply of new flats in the next 10 years - up from the current 50-50 split with private flats.

Meanwhile, Cheung said the property taxes introduced in the past few months would be neither withdrawn nor relaxed, warning that the property market remained unstable because of an abundance of hot cash and ultra-low interest rates.

"Some people, especially real-estate agents, want the market-cooling measures dropped. But the government doesn't want to be seen as softening its stance," he said. "If the measures are withdrawn, the market can easily return to an overheated state like it was last year."

Cheung's comment came after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah made similar remarks on their blogs over the past few days, and a day after real-estate agents called for the taxes to be dropped.