Hong Kong housing

Only single blocks planned for three new public housing estates in Hong Kong

Approval to build single-block estates seen as desperate move by city’s government as it struggles to find enough land to meet targets

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 October, 2016, 9:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 October, 2016, 9:03am

The Hong Kong Housing Authority has endorsed plans to build three new public housing estates in the New Territories – all single-block buildings on small plots of land.

The decision is seen as a desperate move from the government as it tries to find enough land to meet its building targets, a housing expert said.

The three public housing estates will yield about 2,320 units in total in single-block buildings in Tuen Mun, Lai King and Kwai Chung, the authority’s strategic planning committee member Stanley Wong Yuen-fai said.

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“[The three sites are unique in that] they are all single-block housing estates,” Wong said.

“Due to the fact that land is very difficult to come by, the Housing Authority is actually maximising every single site even though they will not be very economical in terms of the number of flats being produced,” he added.

The majority of Hong Kong’s 173 public housing estates are in a cluster of multiple blocks, with only around dozen or so being single blocks.

The three new projects are part of the government’s 10-year long-term housing strategy to build 280,000 public rental flats by 2026.

The authorities are struggling to meet its building targets as it already admitted last year that it would fall short by 25,000 units then.

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Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung, a senior lecturer of the Division of Building Science and Technology at the City University of Hong Kong, said he believed the city’s housing shortage has pushed the government to “think outside the box”.

“Previously, the government would not have considered small plots of land because they are not cost-effective for public housing, but now, given that its priority is to find enough land to meet its building targets, they [have ditched that] former mindset,” Poon said.

He said that even though the plots of land are small, the key concern would be whether the area is well-connected to wet markets, shopping malls and transport to serve the community.

Wong of the Housing Authority said that the Town Planning Board had already approved plans to build beyond the area’s maximum plot ratio of five in order to fully utilise each site.

Each site’s development density was raised by 20 per cent, or up to a plot ratio of six, so it could accommodate more people, he said.

Wong also highlighted that the average construction cost of each unit would be much higher than a multi-block estate, given the fixed construction costs and the relatively low number of flats per project this time.

The three public housing estates are estimated to be completed between 2021 and 2023.