• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 11:09pm
NewsHong Kong

Plan for 215,000 new flats eats into Hong Kong's green belts

Government document released yesterday shows 152 sites where, after rezonings, 470,000 flats will be built over the next 10 years

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 4:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 9:49am

A home-building plan aimed at tackling Hong Kong's chronic housing shortage looks set to eat up swathes of green belt and community sites in satellite towns in the New Territories, according to a paper released yesterday.

The government document showed the geographical distribution of 152 sites on which authorities plan to build about half of the 470,000 units of housing it has promised over the next 10 years.

The paper was presented to the Legislative Council. It did not detail the exact location of the sites. It is expected that at least one-third of the land required will come from green belts and government-use sites in the big satellite towns of Yuen Long and Tun Mun, home to tens of thousands of people.

In last week's policy address, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said his administration had enough land to meet its housing target. The government will now have to sell the proposal to residents and ensure the workforce of the construction industry is big enough to carry out the plan.

Yesterday, Leung said the rezoning of the green belts and public sites - those designated for government and community use, such as schools, churches, hospitals - would add 215,000 flats over the next five years, which is about 45 per cent of the 10-year target.

According to the paper, of the 152 sites, 23 are in Tai Po, 22 in Tuen Mun and 14 in Yuen Long. There are 11 in Sha Tin and six in North District. Those five districts are expected to provide 129,800 flats, or 60 per cent of the total obtained from rezoning and equivalent to almost one-third of the target.

Twelve sites in Sai Kung will be rezoned to allow for 25,300 flats. Fourteen sites in Southern District will be rezoned for the building of 10,400 flats.

Southern District Council chairman Chu Ching-hong said the police training school in Wong Chuk Hang could be a site for rezoning given its large size and prime location.

Some 16,400 flats, 3 per cent of the target, will be derived from rezoning on Hong Kong Island. Two sites were identified, in Central and Western District.

Central and Western District Council vice-chairman Chan Hok-fung said the rezoning proposal could cover the former incineration plant in Kennedy Town and a nearby former police barracks. In densely populated Wong Tai Sin and Sham Shui Po, only one site was selected. In Kowloon, Kwun Tong provides the most sites, 13. There were no sites in Wan Chai or Yau Tsim Mong.

Yuen Long district councillor Tang Ho-nin, who chairs the council's town planning and development committee, said the government should first consider developing brownfield sites occupied by car-repair workshops and waste-sorting sites.

"Isn't it ironic that they ban us from building village houses in green belts while using them to build high-rises?" he said. "Having said that, I won't oppose the rezoning provided that the high-rises are not too close to our villages and enough infrastructure is built for community use."

He said the government should not produce another imbalanced community like Tin Shui Wai, in Yuen Long, where 80 per cent of all housing consists of public flats.



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This article is now closed to comments

The media and people in general need to stop being so negative.
Obviously there will be less empty space if we build more flats. You can't have it both ways!
Instead of bluffing 152 sites which will definitely stir all sort of controversies and objections from all corners, has the Government ever considered a more pragmatic approach in confining the public housing plan to only 2 sites, namely the 320 hectares covering the ex-airport Kai-tak site and the Fanling golf club? The Kai Tak Office (KTO) can be quickly directed to manage a much simplified plan of building all public housing units. As for the Fanling golf club, the SAR government can legally give a short period of notice to the Club for the change. Isn’t it a more realistic approach by reducing 152 controversies into only one or two objections?
The government is making the biggest mistake ever with this housing plan. Hong Kong's success lies in Rail Transport and they should be building allot more rail lines and adding the housing to the new lines.
Building everywhere solely puts more public cars, buses and trucks on the road. This will not just impact those new areas but the current business districts. Air pollution will worsen, travel time on busses will become longer and people will start asking who came up with this horrible plan.
People need to get their heads out of this idea of build now and build everywhere. This continuous unplanned expansion is not good for HK.
We have an abundance of land in Lantau Island with existing infrastructure. Yet, only 1,000 flats have been planned.
Why cram more flats into the green belts of existing towns already choking with pollution? Doesn't the goverment consider the crucial role played by these green lungs in view of the dangerous pollution in this city? Did they consider the medical costs with pollution and health issues exarcerbated by the already existing crammed conditions?
It is troubling to see 25,300 flats earmarked for Sai Kung's 12 sites. Just hope that most of these will be in Tseung Kwan O, since existing infrastructure elsewhere in the district will not be able to cope .
As for the sites in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long, there is no point building more public housing there after the Tin Shui Wai debacle. The private housing there is still the cheapest in HK.
With the billions in its coffers, could the Govt consider, for example building artificial islands in the area previously proposed by Hopewell's Gordon Wu for the new airport in the late 80s? This is between Cheung Chau and Hong Kong Island. This will provide plenty of land and should be very popular because of its proximity to HK Island and Kowloon, and could be easily linked to the new Pokfulam MTR line. Vehicles should be banned like in the existing islands, making it pollution free, ideal homes.
Would the Government also think about land reclamation? There are just too many people in Hong Kong waiting for affordable housing. Please try to multi-task and not just focus on one job at a time!
They wont do it because it will take 10 years. The current chef executive can only see month to month and wants people to love him for making backwards thinking policies.
The govt should also consider taxing apartments left unoccupied by their owners. In reality, there is no 'housing shortage' given the vast number of investment properties sitting empty and the practice of developers who often leave newly constructed apartments unsold to manipulate the market. The media should better choose their words...a 'shortage of affordable houses' would be a more accurate phrase.


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