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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 4:32pm
NewsHong Kong
HOUSING

Development secretary Paul Chan floats idea of building flats in country parks

As city sets 10-year housing target amid acute land shortage, minister says the possibility of developing park spaces should be discussed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 3:59pm
 

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9 Sep 2013
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Total number of votes recorded: 711

The development minister has floated the idea of building flats on land in country parks, questioning whether such a controversial option was "untouchable and unmentionable".

The remarks by Paul Chan Mo-po are a radical departure from Leung Chun-ying's pledge when he was running for election as chief executive that country parks "should be protected from development as far as possible", a vow he shared in an interview with the South China Morning Post almost two years ago.

Laws stipulate that country parks are designated for the purposes of nature conservation, countryside recreation and outdoor education.

Chan's suggestion came after the committee devising a long-term housing strategy for Hong Kong last week unveiled a proposal to build 470,000 flats in the next 10 years, a target criticised as unattainable given the limited land supply.

Chan wrote on his blog yesterday that society should discuss and explore the possibility of developing country parks - an idea he said had recently been raised in various seminars - as more land would be needed to reach the housing target.

"During the exchange, someone mentioned that 70 per cent of Hong Kong's land is country parks, [and] in face of a shortage of land supply and a big housing demand ... can they not be developed at all?

"The development of country parks was seen as a restricted area, if not a taboo. Is it still completely untouchable and unmentionable today?" Chan asked.

Giving an example, he said some people believed development on Lantau, which is mostly country park, should not be limited to the island's north.

Criticising Chan's remarks, environmental activist Roy Tam Hoi-pong, of campaign group Green Sense, said the government should instead review immigration schemes aimed at attracting mainlanders, otherwise an influx of hundreds of thousands of people in the coming decade would make housing demands unbearable.

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Meanwhile, the secretary for transport and housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, said building more flats had to take priority over increasing their size, although housing capacity and quality were mentioned in the committee's proposal.

"If you can't even increase the quantity, how do you increase [flat] areas?" Cheung said on TVB Jade's On the Record.

However, he hoped that the Housing Authority would consider building bigger public flats in more remote areas, conceding that Hong Kong fell behind some less developed countries in terms of living space per capita.

Lau Ping-cheung, Leung's housing adviser and a member of the committee, suggested vacant industrial buildings be turned into interim housing for people waiting for public flats.

Fellow committee member Fred Li Wah-ming said old public flats to be vacated for redevelopment should be converted into interim housing for the 230,000 applicants in the queue.

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dynamco
it used to be 150 per day / about 55,000 a year
not sure if that changed
johnyuan
Hong Kong’s birth rate is considered to be low. It is being kept low because couples refrain from forming family in adverse living conditions in Hong Kong. Yet, with the 150 mainlanders daily settling in Hong Kong, we are doubling the birthrate of that natural response by the sensible people in Hong Kong.
….
With 150 new comers daily and assuming only a third would require immediate household formation, we are talking of building two 30-story residential towers in every Districts EVERY YEAR. More if back logs are considered. Yes in your backyard non-stop.
.....
A naive and silly game has played out long enough. CY Leung please take care of it.
johnyuan
....
dascaldasf
Turn the golf courses into car parks. Would benefit most.
scmpcoolguy
HK Lover - Reducing the daily quota of 150 mainlanders allowed to settle in HK is a real taboo subject in the eyes of the Central Govt. Even CY Leung said openly this is a taboo and no HK govt would dare to touch it. This daily quota of 150 was installed in the early 80s after the "four modernisation" policies put forward by Deng was adopted. It is a measure to ensure HK will have 54,750 new immigrants per year so as to allow China to catch up the difference in living standards between HK and the mainland (with the ultimate objective to achieve economic equality between the two sides 50 years later in 2047). It is also en effective measure in the minds of the central govt that HK will continue to be populated by pro-China thinking and inhibit the pro-British or worse still pro-independence thinking of the locally born and bred population. With the latest colonial flag waving and a pro-independence camp thriving among HKs post 80s & 90s population, honestly it's hard to see the central govt putting a damper on the daily quota

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