Use land for flats, not village houses, Hong Kong think tank suggests

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 September, 2013, 8:09am

Some of the land that has been reserved for village houses should instead be used for public flats, a think tank says.

Land Watch yesterday said that if just a tenth of the land in question was used, it could provide homes for 300,000 people.

"The whole idea is to make more efficient use of village land," group chairman and former legislator Lee Wing-tat said.

Almost 1,000 hectares of usable but unallocated land is available in areas zoned for "village-type development", government figures released last year showed.

Using just 100 hectares of this land to build high-rise public rental or Home Ownership Scheme flats would meet the needs of more people than three-storey village houses would, Lee said.

Vice-chairman Lee Chi-ming said using a plot ratio of four, the government could convert the 100 hectares into four million square metres of gross floor area.

The group randomly selected six plots of land covering a total area of 55,000 square metres - in Kam Tin, Yuen Long and Tuen Mun - for site visits.

Five were near high-density residential estates and are well connected to road networks, the vice-chairman said. One was next to Goodview Court in Kam Tin and another was opposite Residence 88 in Yuen Long.

Unlike proposed developments in the northeast New Territories, building public housing on unallocated government land did not require the purchase of land from farmers or villagers, the group chairman said.

Including applications for changes of zoning and for construction, the first batch of public housing could be finished in six to seven years, he said. And as only a tenth of the land was involved, it would not interfere with the policy which gives indigenous male villagers the right to build their own small houses.

But Leung Fuk-yuen, chairman of the Shap Pat Heung rural committee, thought otherwise.

"There are more than 600 villages in the New Territories, meaning each village is entitled to a little more than one hectare of land," he said. "The government should buy up disused farmland instead."