THE Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce wants the Government to encourage the building of 30,000 private homes and 50,000 public housing units a year. It said the Government's residential and commercial land policies were out of 'sync' with the territory's needs and should be reviewed urgently. The chamber yesterday wrote to the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Bowen Leung Po-wing, saying the Government should encourage the suggested building programme to meet the demand for residential housing in the territory. Chamber director Ian Christie said: 'We are seeing a large number of returnees coming into Hong Kong. 'There is going to be a large influx of children and adults from the mainland, as well as whatever other immigration will be coming into the territory.' The chamber called on the Government to make residential property more affordable by easing property taxes and introducing tax allowances for mortgage loan interest. 'There is a growing population aged between 35 and 45 years who can buy apartments,' Mr Christie said. 'So there is still a large demand for residential housing.' He said mortgage availability should be eased and banks encouraged to provide mortgage loans for older properties. The chamber wants the Government to consider phasing out restrictions on the pre-sale market. 'What we'd like to do is prime the pump in order to get the residential market going and let market forces prevail,' Mr Christie said. The chamber said the Government should make it easier to re-designate old, derelict industrial properties for commercial use. Mr Christie said the Government should ease off on its industrial/office (I/O) classification. 'Let's skip I/O and rezone for commercial or residential,' he said. Mr Christie favoured more mixed-use developments combining living space close to people's jobs. 'The Town Planning Board seems reluctant to rezone directly from industrial to commercial categories in traditional industrial areas, despite rapidly diminishing demand for pure industrial property,' he said. In the long run, these sites would be less costly to develop and cheaper than new buildings in central districts. The chamber criticised the plan to locate 3.8 million square feet, or 80 per cent of the planned office supply, in the central business district. He said the Government should think twice about reclaiming so much land for commercial development. 'Who is going to use it? They could put it on hold until it is required,' he said. 'There is a growing point of view that there has been too much reclamation. We shouldn't do it until it is necessary. 'There are plenty of sites that can be redeveloped without doing any more reclamation.' Mr Christie said much of this new space would be too expensive for middle-sized businesses. 'There are all sorts of problems with these sites,' he said. 'They are uneconomical and not affordable to the many companies looking to set up headquarters in Hong Kong with operations in China.' In its letter to Mr Leung, the chamber said the Land Development Corporation (LDC) should play a greater role in helping redevelop derelict sites. 'The LDC can play its role in urban renewal for comprehensive redevelopments which are called for in these industrial areas, which otherwise would become dilapidated,' he said.