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The Lantau Tomorrow Vision project centres on building man-made islands that would become a housing and business hub. The first phase of the project involves the reclamation of 1,000 hectares around Kai Yi Chau island (right). Photo: Edmond So

Letters | Why Hong Kong’s megaprojects offer a questionable quality of life

  • Readers discuss the high possibility of congestion in the government’s Lantau Tomorrow Vision and Northern Metropolis projects, and how the waiting time for public housing can be shortened

If Hong Kong taxpayers are wondering if the government knows what it is doing in pushing one infrastructure megaproject after another, they are fully justified.

The 1,000 hectares to be reclaimed from the sea under the Lantau Tomorrow Vision – which could cost HK$1 trillion (US$128.3 billion) according to one estimate – has been hailed as a game-changer that will provide quality living in affordable housing while serving as a gateway to the Greater Bay Area. Yet, the proposed population of 400,000 to 700,000 people gives rise to a population density of 40,000 to 70,000 residents per sq km, making it among the city’s most congested districts.

According to 2020 Census and Statistics Department data, Kwun Tong – the most congested district – has 61,000 people per sq km. At its maximum capacity of 700,000, the Lantau Tomorrow project will be more densely populated than Hong Kong’s most congested district. At the low-end capacity of 400,000, it will be more congested than 13 out of the city’s 18 districts. If you enjoy congestion, crowds and cramped space, welcome to the Lantau Tomorrow Vision.

The residential environment is even more dire. The government claims that no less than 200 hectares will be used for housing in the first phase of the plan in Kau Yi Chau. This could put the residential population density in the project’s housing estates at 200,000 to 350,000 residents per sq km.


Why Carrie Lam’s Lantau land reclamation plan is so controversial

Why Carrie Lam’s Lantau land reclamation plan is so controversial

The Planning Department reported that public housing occupied about 17 sq km of land in 2020, while the Housing Authority reported that last year, 3,375,000 residents – about 45 per cent of Hong Kong’s population – lived in public housing estates. This means public housing estates have a residential density of 198,529 per sq km.

Thus, the residents of Lantau Tomorrow housing estates could face a living environment comparable to or worse than those in public housing now. If you envy the quality of life in public housing, come live in a Lantau Tomorrow estate.

The government is making the same mistakes with its latest game-changer, the Northern Metropolis. While earmarking a whopping 300 sq km for the metropolis with a population of 2.5 million, the actual districts planned for commercial and residential development, according to the government’s 2030 Plus report, comprise only 2,270 hectares in five areas: Ngau Tam Mei, San Tin/Lok Ma Chau, New Territories North New Town and Man Kam To, plus additional land to be developed. That puts the population density of the Northern Metropolis at 110,000 per sq km – even more congested than the Lantau Tomorrow project.

So either the actual number of housing units to be built will be far less than what the government tells the public or, if they are built, residents will live in a highly congested environment. Is the government even aware of the ridiculous implications of its breathless marketing of costly and often unnecessary infrastructure projects?

Tom Yam, Lantau

Public housing wait too long for families in need

I am writing to respond to the report, “Average waiting time for a public flat hits 22-year high” (November 12).
Hong Kong was ranked the world’s least affordable residential property market again this year. Many families are forced to live in cramped subdivided flats while waiting to be allocated a flat in a public housing estate. That they have to wait an average of six years for such a flat is unacceptable because it means people have to live in subdivided flats and endure a substandard living environment for many years. No doubt, this has negative effects on several aspects of their lives.
Hong Kong should make better use of degraded rural land, also known as brownfield sites. It could also redevelop old buildings, such as those that are used to house factories, as well as old private estates.

Christine Chan, Kwai Chung