Hong Kong housing

One million flats needed to meet growing demand in Hong Kong by 2046

Government’s long-term development plan sets out vision for Hong Kong’s growing population

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 11:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 10:35am

Hong Kong will need one million flats in the next three decades to accommodate household growth, non-locals and displacement caused by redevelopment projects, according to a long-term land planning report issued by the government.

The report, released as a supplement to the 2030 Plus long-term strategy for planning and development beyond 2030, also projects that the average flat size in the private housing sector would be 646 sq ft in net or saleable floor area by 2046.

The calculation is based on flat sizes growing 6 per cent over the past 32 years. The current average size for planned new town housing developments is 620 sq ft.

Based on the projections, the report concludes that the city will need 1,670 hectares of land for housing by 2046, with only 1,440 hectares already identified.

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This is the first time that the government has specified the target date of 2046, a year before the end of the five decades that Beijing has promised to keep the city’s way of life unchanged.

“[The projection] has not taken into account any home space enhancement, despite the general community’s aspiration for improving living quality ... any inclusion of home space enhancement would imply additional housing land requirement,” the report said.

It projects the need for 460,000 flats to be built by 2026, an estimate raised in the Long Term Housing Strategy Annual Progress Report last year.

From 2026 to 2046, Hong Kong will need 540,000 flats to accommodate household growth, families displaced by redevelopment projects, and non-local students, workers and buyers.

The report also estimates that with average flat sizes growing at a rate of 6 per cent over the past three decades, 60 per cent of private flats in the city will measure between 517 sq ft and 689 sq ft, compared with the current 49 per cent.

As for public housing, the report said the Housing Authority would continue with the current average of 431 sq ft for the long term.

But Chau Kwong-wing, a property expert at the University of Hong Kong, called on the government to tell the public whether it believed the flat size expansion rate would be enough to improve people’s living standards. He said even after the expansion, the average flat size was still too small compared to other cities around the world.

Chau also questioned whether the government could provide enough land in attractive locations to meet demand.

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The 2030 Plus blueprint, released last month for a half-year-long public consultation exercise, recommended two large-scale new town developments in the northern New Territories and on reclaimed land to the east of Lantau Island – which could provide 1,720 hectares – to meet a projected shortfall of 1,200 hectares for housing and economic development.

Regarding strong opposition against the Lantau reclamation, outgoing planning director Ling Kar-kan, who will be succeeded by Raymond Lee Kai-wing today, said any large-scale new town development was bound to meet opposition from many groups whose interests were affected.

He said families who might potentially move into the new towns would not have foreseen their future, so they would not have voiced their support at the planning stage.

“This is an eternal predicament for planners,” Ling said. “But if we give up on the projects because of the opposition, the long-term benefits will never materialise.”

Additional reporting by Ernest Kao