Lawmakers say housing target is unrealistic
Plan to rezone green areas and community sites 'risks backlash at the district level'
Lawmakers have disputed the government's ability to deliver its ambitious housing target despite its claim to have secured enough land.
They questioned whether the land the government proposed to use - including green-belt areas and community sites - could be rezoned successfully without district opposition.
"There are too few community facilities in almost every district. How realistic is it for the government to achieve the target?" asked Michael Tien Puk-sun of the New People's Party at a meeting of the Legislative Council housing panel yesterday.
The questions were raised as Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung explained housing measures in the policy address delivered by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on January 15.
In the address, Leung said he had adopted a target of building 470,000 flats in the next decade, of which 60 per cent would be public housing. This calls for the construction of 80,000 public flats from 2014 to 2018, and 200,000 from 2019 to 2023.
To attain the target, he announced that the government would rezone 150 green-belt and community sites.
The panel meeting resumed yesterday after being called off last week when not enough members showed up.
"The government cannot assure us that the sites identified can be rezoned successfully, although it is seizing land from the communities blindly," said Wong Yuk-man, representing Kowloon West.
"Will it spark opposition at the district level?"
Alice Mak Mei-kuen and Leung Yiu-chung, representing New Territories West, expressed a similar concern.
But Cheung said the housing problem would not be resolved without a target and a delivery programme.
"Our task has been affected by decisions taken by the previous administration," he said. "It's normal to take four to five years [to build a housing estate]. If we do not do it today, we will still have nothing in a few years."
In a meeting with media, Cheung said he would not rule out building community facilities in districts to gain local support for the rezoning.
He added that the Housing Authority had already completed a preliminary study on redeveloping 22 old public estates, but further research was needed on the cost-effectiveness of the developments and the impact on the construction industry.
He said a former site for international universities - Queen's Hill in Fanling - would be designated for 15,000 public units and 1,900 private units, housing a population of about 40,000. But the flats would only be available in phases from 2019 to 2020.