The government may allow higher development density in the future to meet housing needs, outgoing director of planning Jimmy Leung Cheuk-fai said.
Leung emphasised that any increase in density, probably for housing sites in the New Territories, must not undermine planning principles, including consideration of visual impact and impact on air flow.
He appealed to the public to accept reclamation other than in the harbour, warning of a "crazy property market" if the city failed to build up a land reserve.
"We have to plan ahead. It will be too late if we plan only when the need arises. Hong Kong people should step back and think for their next generation. Future developments could become difficult if we don't accept reclamation outside the harbour," he said, referring to one of six options being explored by the government to boost land supply.
Leung said reclamation was part of the city's history, having created land for prime business and logistics districts, including Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Kwai Chung. "Saying no to reclamation may not be desirable."
While there are estimated to be up to 200,000 unoccupied private flats in the city, there is a shortage of affordable housing and a long waiting list for public housing, with many poor people inadequately housed.
Leung was involved in planning Tsing Yi new town in the 1970s. He also led redevelopment of the City Gallery in Central and planning for the redevelopment of East Kowloon.