An increasing number of people will move to the mainland over the next three decades to avoid the SAR's high cost of living, the planning chief said yesterday. Unveiling initial ideas in the 'Hong Kong 2030: Planning Vision and Strategy' study, Director of Planning Bosco Fung Chee-keung said his department was looking at ways to enhance socio-economic ties with the mainland. One such tie would involve the mainland helping to ease Hong Kong's problems in housing and social facilities. According to the Census and Statistics Department, in 1999 there were 188,000 residents who stayed in Hong Kong for at least one month but less than three months in the half-year period surveyed. Most were believed to live and work on the mainland, taking advantage of cheap homes. 'The trend is already there. There will probably be more and more people choosing to do this and it will help bring more flexibility in our land-use planning,' Mr Fung said. The $15 million study will draw up a blueprint for SAR land-use up to 2030. The report will be completed within two years, with four stages of consultation gathering public views. It will study co-operation with the Pearl River Delta region after the mainland's entry into the World Trade Organisation and other issues, such as maintaining Hong Kong's position as an Asian hub, environmental protection, transport and infrastructure development, and hi-tech and tourism opportunities. To enhance cross-border mobility, Mr Fung said the mainland and SAR governments could work together to eliminate barriers, such as opening the border 24 hours a day. He denied there were plans to shift Hong Kong's population and social problems to the mainland, saying it was market forces that motivated people to live over the border. Nicholas Brooke, a private real estate adviser and a member of the Town Planning Board, said the trend of cross-border living was a reality and proposed authorities in the delta region should combine land-use planning in the long-term. Hong Kong Institute of Planners president Andrew Lam Siu-lo urged a separate, in-depth study into mobility. 'We appear to lack a clear baseline understanding of what types of people will live on the mainland and what their demands are for housing and social facilities,' Mr Lam said. The main study will also look at the planning experience of seven major cities, including New York, London, Paris and Tokyo.