Hong Kong housing

Why Lantau reclamation is the best housing plan for Hong Kong

  • It is a sound plan taking into account the strategic economic development of Hong Kong
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 October, 2018, 5:19pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 October, 2018, 5:19pm

I am writing in support of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s Lantau Tomorrow Vision, which provides necessary land for development to cope with the city’s future needs. As the leader of Hong Kong, Ms Lam must stay firm on this decision, in spite of the expected criticism.

Lantau Tomorrow Vision is a sound plan taking into account the strategic economic development of Hong Kong. Upon the commissioning of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the Airport Authority’s development plans of SkyCity and AsiaWorld-Expo, and the expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland, we can expect more tourists to visit Hong Kong and, of course, Lantau Island. Besides, Ms Lam expects Lantau to become the third business area in the city. All of this implies that both low-skilled and professional jobs will be created. There will be a network of roads and railways connecting Lantau to Tuen Mun and all the way through to Hong Kong Island. Furthermore, Lantau has a great natural and marine environment, offering good recreational and educational facilities for residents.

Now is the time to make tough decisions on future land supply

Critics suggest that the government should first consider using abandoned farmlands. However, there are two problems that render this recommendation impractical. First, a complete community does not only consist of a collection of residential buildings, it also needs jobs, hospitals, markets, recreational facilities and, most importantly, well-planned transport networks. These abandoned lands are scattered in different parts of the New Territories, which would make it difficult to provide all necessary infrastructure to each area.

Second, a lot of these lands are private properties held by the developers. There have been voices advising the government that it can use the Lands Resumption Ordinance to take back land for public purposes. However, Hong Kong is a capitalist society in which the protection of private property has been emphasised. If the government does use the law to retrieve those lands, would that mean that, in the future, the government can use it for the resumption of other plots of land by claiming that this is in the public interest? This is probably the last thing that we want to see.

However, I can understand why some people are upset with the plan. The chief executive’s recent policy address focused a lot on long-term development plans, but used relatively few words to explain how the government is going to release lands in the short term to cope with our current needs. Therefore, I urge the government to speed up its study into the possibility of using brownfield sites and land under recreational leases for the building of public housing in the short term.

Anson Chan, North Point