THE Government is being urged to vacate under-developed sites as soon as possible to make more land available as part of the campaign to relieve the overheated property market. One large site, the government quarters at King's Park Rise, will be cleared for sale early next year. The 17,000-square-metre site on the peak behind Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Yau Ma Tei, is expected to fetch at least $5 billion. Officers living in King's Park Rise will soon be given nine months' notice to identify a new home and to apply for relocation. The timing of the sale hinges on the joint Sino-British Land Commission's approval to put it on the annual land disposal programme. The revenue will be split between the Treasury and the Land Fund for the future Special Administrative Region government. The quarters, built in the 1950s, utilise a large area for only 49 flats for senior civil servants. The senior partner of Brooke Hillier Parker, Nicholas Brooke, said there were few large urban sites left and King's Park would be valuable to developers. ''King's Park Rise is suitable for the high quality and top-end market. It will help to relieve the pressure for luxury flats,'' Mr Brooke said. There are still more than 20 sites occupied by government quarters in good locations such as Broadcast Drive, Happy Valley, Kowloon Tong, Deep Water Bay and The Peak. Chief Property Manager Wong Fay-pang admitted most of them were under-developed by today's standard. ''They are the legacy of history. When they were built a long time ago, they were as tall as other buildings. But over the years, buildings surrounding them have been torn down and re-developed into high-rises,'' Mr Wong said. Although the benefit of re-developing the quarter sites was evident, Mr Wong said it was difficult to vacate a quarter site since a sufficient number of empty places had to be found to accommodate affected officers. ''If there are not enough empty flats, we have to compete with other departments for resources in buying new quarters to accommodate affected officers,'' Mr Wong said. ''If priority is given to buying quarters in high-rise buildings to accommodate officers, it would be easier to vacate under-developed quarters and a large amount of land reserve could be unlocked.'' Mr Brooke said it would be good to see the Government speed up the process of re-developing under-utilised sites. ''The Government should involve the private sector which has experience in developing the full potential of sites and would act much quicker,'' Mr Brooke said. ''Joint venture sounds very sensible to allow the Government to collect part cash and part units in return for its sites.'' The president of the Society of Hong Kong Real Estate Agents, Michael Choi Ngai-min, also agreed that the Government should speed up the process of developing under-utilised sites. However, he feared buying flats from the market to accommodate affected officers would in turn fuel the market. Independent legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said the release of land of under-developed quarters would certainly be a long-term solution to curb spiralling property prices. But she said the procedure to vacate an under-developed site was complicated and careful consideration should be given to the environmental impact and town planning guidelines. Vice-convenor of the Legco housing panel Frederick Fung Kin-kee supported the move to speed up the development of under-utilised sites, provided the land was made available for residential use. However, Mr Fung also expressed concern about having to relocate a large number of civil servants presently living in the quarters.