Hong Kong’s housing crisis has an easy solution: develop brownfields, leave natural assets alone
With the public consultation on land use being launched today, Greenpeace believes the Hong Kong government is overstating the land supply urgency for housing, in order to plunder natural assets.
But, if the government puts public interest first, it can certainly employ the Lands Resumption Ordinance to take back brownfields, as a way to resolve the housing problem for people in need.
The land use public consultation should focus on developing brownfields, whereas natural resources are untouchable assets.
In addition to brownfields, just developing the golf course in Fanling in the medium and long term is one solution for the housing problem straight away. Greenpeace doesn’t see any need to exploit country parks, the sea or farmlands in the medium term.
According to government estimates, the Task Force on Land Supply has to find 800 hectares before 2026. But the land to be set aside for public housing can be covered by the development of brownfields and golf courses.
Hong Kong does not lack land. Just in the New Territories there are 723 hectares of brownfield, such as in Wang Toi Shan, Pat Heung and Ki Lun Tsuen, which are not included in the development plan.
The government’s claim of facing judicial reviews if it tries to take back brownfields is a weak argument, as so far there are no precedents related to that at all.
In 2017, the government ignored the judicial review submitted by the public when it tried to use the green belt at Tai Wo Ping to develop private housing. The tendering process of selling the land continued alongside the court proceedings.
The government should not use the excuse of people living in crowded, small and expensive places to justify its move to make a bigger pie. How to make the right pie is the key issue.
Hence the historic unjust planning, that is skewed to favour the privileged when tackling the housing problem, must be corrected.
Andy Chu, campaigner, Greenpeace