Hong Kong’s brownfield sites are only one part of our holistic land planning

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 November, 2015, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 November, 2015, 4:45pm

I refer to Alex Lo’s column, “Let’s look into ‘brownfield’ development”, on November 12.

Developable land is key to meeting our needs for housing and socio-economic development. The government adopts a multipronged approach to increase land supply over the short, medium and long terms.

Brownfield sites are a major source of land supply for the medium term. Some 190 hectares of brownfield sites will be cleared for the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area. Likewise, Yuen Long South and Kwu Tung North developments will use 106 and 51 hectares respectively of such sites. Doing so requires comprehensive planning, infrastructure upgrading and, above all, thorough discussions among our community to address concerns of the affected. These inevitably take time.

To meet short-term demand for housing, we have conducted land use reviews to better utilise land in existing built-up areas and their fringes. Suitable sites are being converted to housing, with their development intensity maximised where planning terms permit. Some 70 green-belt sites have been chosen, but not at random: we target only de-vegetated sites or those with vegetation but that are of relatively low conservation and buffer value. Together, they make up about 150 hectares, or only 1 per cent of our green-belt areas, but can provide over 80,000 flats, over 70 per cent of which will be for public housing.

As one can see, we consider all possibilities and are not blindly seizing land.

We uphold sound planning principles, aimed at making Hong Kong a compact yet liveable city. We are updating our territorial development strategy, last revamped in 2007, through the “Hong Kong 2030+” study, so as to holistically plan for our city’s development well beyond 2030. We are exploring development potential in New Territories North and Lantau, reclamation outside Victoria Harbour, caverns and underground space, and so on.

As Mr Lo pointed out, there should be no sacred cows. When the long-term development of Hong Kong is at stake, our open and diverse community will naturally come up with different views touching upon every aspect of our lives. So far, a thread of the community’s discussion has focused on our country parks, which cover some 44,000 hectares, with landscapes ranging from rich habitats of high ecological value to barren hillside and scrubland or grassland with relatively low conservation and public enjoyment value. This is only natural.

We are confident that our community can handle these discussions in a rational and objective manner.

Eric Ma, undersecretary for development