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Hong Kong housing

Thousands of flats in Kowloon to be rebuilt to boost public housing supply in space-starved Hong Kong

Some 3,200 flats in six public housing blocks up to four decades old will be redeveloped

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 August, 2017, 10:14pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 August, 2017, 11:34pm

Thousands of public sector flats at two housing estates in Kowloon have been slated for demolition as part of plans for buildings with a higher number of units in hopes of alleviating Hong Kong’s housing shortage.

Some 3,200 flats in six public housing blocks up to four decades old will be redeveloped starting in 2020, according to a source close to the matter. The new buildings will collectively house about 4,000 flats and will be ready within the next decade.

About 8,540 affected residents will be relocated to nearby estates to make way for the projects.

“Although the buildings are structurally sound, we have to consider that their redevelopment potential is extremely high,” the source said.

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The plans come at a time when the government is grappling with a backlog of 277,800 applicants for public housing who have to wait an average of four years and eight months for a home, Housing Authority figures at the end of June showed.

Authorities have admitted they face a shortfall of 44,000 public housing flats to meet building targets for the next decade.

The redevelopment of two blocks at Mei Tung Estate in Kowloon City, built between 1974 and 1983, will more than double the number of flats there from 665 to 1,900 by 2027, and will be made possible by planning authorities lifting height restrictions in the area, the source said.

The restrictions were put in place to enable planes to fly into the former airport at neighbouring Kai Tak.

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The other redevelopment plan, involving four blocks at Pak Tin Estate in Shek Kip Mei, will lower the number of flats there from 2,570 to 2,100 by 2025, but is the latest phase from a 2012 blueprint to eventually provide a total of 5,650 flats at the site.

The Housing Authority is expected to spend HK$36 million in relocation subsidies for families affected by the two projects.

However, the source said using redevelopment as a way to boost housing supply could “only play a supporting role” in alleviating the city’s shortage of flats.
“Large-scale redevelopment planning will only freeze out large numbers of public flats [from the tenant waiting list], therefore it is not desirable,” the source said.

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Authorities earlier identified 22 public housing estates between 38 and 64 years old that had redevelopment potential, in line with an initiative set out in former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying’s 2014 policy address.
However, so far there have only been proposals put forward for two out of the 22.

The source said not all estates were immediately suitable for redevelopment under four principles used to identify sites. Those factors were a building’s structural condition, the cost-effectiveness of renovations, resettlement options and redevelopment potential.

Anthony Chiu Kwok-wai, executive director of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, which represents residents, said there was a need for the government to develop a comprehensive strategy for redeveloping old buildings.

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“The government previously scrapped a policy that reviewed what buildings needed to be redeveloped every five years, so there is no regular planning anymore. The government can no longer use a piecemeal approach,” Chiu said.

Two committees under the Housing Authority are expected to give the proposal the green light next Wednesday.