An urban planning concern group is asking for more Home Ownership Scheme flats to be built in Tung Chung on Lantau, rather than public rental housing. Green Sense made the call after a visit to Yat Tung Estate found 50 seemingly vacant units.
These units did not have any furniture and there was no renovation going on.
The assessment of the estate's 25 buildings was made from ground level, by members looking up at the flats on the lowest eight floors.
"It's widely known in the community that Yat Tung Estate is unpopular among public housing applicants as Tung Chung is far from the city centre and the estate is far from the MTR station," said Roy Tam Hoi-pong of Green Sense. "They don't want to spend too much on transport.
"Instead of rental housing, the government should build HOS flats in Tung Chung," he said, adding HOS flats would attract better-off families, which would bring more amenities to the area.
Currently, Tung Chung has only one HOS estate.
Yat Tung Estate was to comprise homes for sale but it was converted into rental units to enable the government to speed up rental housing allocation, after it suspended the HOS in 2002.
A Housing Department spokesman said the vacancy rate of Yat Tung fell to 0.7 per cent in December after the rent was lowered. Before the exercise, the vacancy rate was 2.5 per cent, or 300 out of the estate's 12,000 units were vacant, according to the department's website.
Despite this, two rental housing projects are being planned near Yat Tung Estate - District 39 and Site 56 will yield 3,500 and 3,600 flats, respectively.