• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 4:05am
CY Leung policy address 2014
NewsHong Kong

CY Leung's building bonanza 'could cost Hongkongers' quality of life'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 7:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 10:52am

The government's ambitious target for new housing has allowed fresh ideas to flourish, analysts say, but it could also affect Hongkongers' quality of life.

And despite claims by government sources, after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's policy address, that the administration had secured enough land to meet its goals, a professor of real estate warned that uncertainty could yet undermine the target of building 470,000 new flats in the next decade.

A government source said 80 sites - which will be rezoned from green belt or government, institutional or community use, as announced in Leung's speech - would yield 89,000 flats, taking the total due to come online in the next decade to 485,000, 15,000 over the target.

The new sites include the 20-hectare Queen's Hill in Fanling and a nine-hectare site in Tai Po, originally allocated for a private university and hospital, respectively. All should be ready for development within five years.

The Development Bureau will also seek to speed up developments by introducing a pilot arbitration scheme to ease lengthy negotiations over land premiums - the sum a developer must pay to the government to change the land lease when developing a site. Negotiations can take months or years, but under the arbitration system, both the government and developer would only have to agree on the price set by an independent arbitrator.

Leung also announced plans to explore underground development in four districts - Tsim Sha Tsui West, Causeway Bay, Happy Valley and an area between Admiralty and Wan Chai. They were chosen because they offer the potential to exploit underground space below government-owned parks such as Kowloon Park, Hong Kong Park and Victoria Park, and space below the hillside on Queen's Road East.

But meeting the target has a cost. Development density in areas outside the already packed Kowloon Peninsula and north side of Hong Kong Island will be increased by an average of about 20 per cent. The development of the former Kai Tak airport and the eastern expansion of Tuen Mun new town will be among those sites affected.

At Kai Tak, the new rules will allow an extra 6,800 flats and 430,000 square metres of office space. Height limits will also be relaxed.

The lifting of a moratorium on new flats in Pok Fu Lam will allow the building of 11,900 public flats and subsidised homes for sale at five sites close to the 9,000-home Wah Fu Estate, which will also be redeveloped.

In the longer term, a new town at Hung Shui Kiu will provide homes for 175,000 people, while about 53,000 flats will be built at Tung Chung. The government will also study reclamation outside Victoria Harbour.

But experts warned against claiming victory.

"There are still a lot of uncertainties in delivering the housing target," said Professor Chau Kwong-wing, a real-estate expert at the University of Hong Kong, "Residents may not want their views blocked by new flats and rezoning green belts could also run into opposition from green groups."

He also warned transport and community facilities could come under pressure.



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This article is now closed to comments

In the mean time, the "indigenous villager"Small House Policy gravy train continues to accelerate at the expense of 95% of the population; wonderful.
With an increasing population, "quality of life" measured by population density must decrease. People will either be crammed into more compartmentalised flats or more flats must be built in low density areas. It is a cost that Hong Kongers must bear.
I am surprised to learn there is any quality of life left in Hong Kong. Where was it found precisely? Surely not in the public housing bathrooms that don't feature sufficient space to brush your teeth?
John Adams
What "quality" of life ?
Since when have golf-playing tycoons started writing for the SCMP ?
it is always a give and take. Every policy has a tradeoff and a responsible citizen is obliged to scarify something for the good of the public. It is silly to talk about quality of life when lots of people are still living in miserable condition and are queuing up for public housing. When we talk about improving our living environment, the first thing to do is to have more space but under the "high land price" policy, this is virtually impossible as it will erode the wealth of flat owner. As expected, CY does not have the courage to challenge the status quo of indigenous villager policy to free up large piece of unused land for housing. What a shame such unfair policy continues at the expense of majority interest.
I'm utterly surprised that such a silly notion made the headline at SCMP.
Please send your writers / reporters to Shumshuipo; Kwun Tong; Western; Mongkok; Tai Kok Tsui; Ma Tau Kok; Yau Ma Tei & etc ...... and have a good look around !!
As with all politicians, CY has finally learned the art of Bulllllshittting.............all he has done is toss the public a bunch of aggressive figures in hopes that he can stabilize the political environment for the rest of his term. He is not going to be around long enough to make good on these commitments so he's doing the cunning thing of making humungous promises that he will never be around to keep.............Smart move..........Idddiiioootttt!!!!!!!!!!!
In the name of development this government is trying to destroy this city's unique landscape and treasured habour. They are following their comrades across the river where hills are cropped, countryside cleared more massive property projects, and open water areas reclaimed for ever-going developments.
@anthonygmail: Then perhaps the population should be plateauing or decreasing then. One of the main reason that most of Hong Kong, except the affluent, live in shoe boxes or worse is because there are simply too many people for this small strip of land. I would imagine our living space would be much larger if the population were smaller.
For greater certainty, I am not suggesting anyone to leave in order to achieve this result, but for the population to stabilize through cancelling immigration and reductions through attrition.
Professor Chau Kwong-wing is right. Don't be naive. Target is target. What is said does not necessarily means what will be done. This is the art of speech!


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