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  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 9:53am
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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  • Yes: 17%
  • No: 83%
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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This article is now closed to comments

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
HK-Explorer
Prior to discussing developing in country parks the government should remove the small house policy. They should end it to eligible people already born. Anyone born after now is no longer eligible to free land to build a house.
They should then amend it to the land can only be used to build 10 story buildings with 4 flats per story and that each eligable person gets 1 flat of 800 SQ feet and they cannot sell this flat (or the land).
This will then mean HK has honoured its pledge for providing a house for the indigenous people alive today who were already entitled.
This will then provide enough land for development without touching country Parks.
HK-Explorer
Further to the indigenous-multi-story-housing-policy that should replace the small house policy (for those eligible already born) the government should stipulate the only building layout to remove any unknown answers and also to ensure no one takes advantage of this (i.e. by adding 4 story car parks, large balconies etc..).
They should say this is the exact 10 story building you are allowed to build and must meet this specification (similar to how the government builds government towers).
Anyone builder who does not follow this process would be banned from building anymore of these indigenous buildings.
chuchu59
I would have triple-liked this suggestion if the system allowed me to do so. Killing several birds with one stone. Freeing more land for housing purposes, easing tensions between the haves and have-nots as well as saving face for the Government. You should get an award from the Government for this.
maecheung
Excellent suggestion! It's discriminatory to give free land to build small house to indigenous people not yet born, and not giving to people who were born in HK in the city, but not indigenous, twenty or thirty years ago.
dynamco
www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1290468/pressure-mounts-chan-step-down
"Lawmakers passed a motion on Friday morning urging Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po to step down over the conflict-of-interest row relating to a new town project.
The non-binding motion, moved by People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip, was passed by the Legislative Council's development panel with a vote of 11 to 7."
Which part of this does Chan Mo-Po not understand ? What are the chances of getting this project passed through Legco ? What are the chances of getting any proposal by Chan Mo-Po through Legco ?
It seems Chan & CY Leung are the only people in Hong Kong who do not realise the resignation time is past due for Chan. Without trust in the proposer, any such policy is doomed.
Meanwhile reverse mine the landfills to create land for public housing.
The 150,000 tpa plasma trial plant would be free , just Govt to provide the land FOC.

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