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Hong Kong housing

Hong Kong task force report on land supply: win some, lose some

  • Ignoring PLA land on government advice and targeting the Fanling golf course are blemishes on a largely excellent report
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 January, 2019, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 January, 2019, 2:02pm

I make three observations on the largely excellent Task Force on Land Supply report. First, recommending the priority development of brownfield sites and agricultural land, including that held by developers, is to be welcomed. These opportunities have been neglected for too many years and should be tackled head on now.

Second, the report, on government advice, ignores land sites currently occupied by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), after the government said that land was being used for defence purposes. These are extensive, largely underutilised and easily developed. I understand that a mechanism for the return of military land to our government was established at the time of the Joint Declaration. It just needs to be activated.

President Xi Jinping has indicated on several occasions that it is central government policy to support Hong Kong, and it seems inconceivable that they would refuse to assist us in our number one priority if asked to request the PLA to release all land surplus to its operational needs. We undoubtedly have the necessary public funds to compensate, if required.

Third, targeting part of the Fanling golf course for housing is just plain wrong. In relation to the overall land area needed, it is too small scale and is devastating to a major environmental and heritage asset, as Alexander Duggie points out in his letter of January 4. It erodes existing government policy to develop sport in Hong Kong, including major events, reduces the attractiveness of Hong Kong as an international city and is contrary to the report’s highlighted need for a balanced living environment, valuing open space and sports and recreational facilities as much as the built environment.

It seems the task force has been driven more by political considerations of popular discontent at the wealth gap and elitism than long-term practical considerations that benefit the whole of Hong Kong.

T.E. Smith, Stanley