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Hong Kong housing

Hong Kong aiming to build 12,600 public housing flats on former airport site by 2026

  • In paper submitted to Kowloon City District Council, housing providers say area could provide affordable homes for about 35,100 people
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2019, 9:58am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2019, 11:13am

A new development area at the site of Hong Kong’s former airport is expected to provide about 12,600 public housing flats by 2026, a new official document revealed as the government continued its bid to combat astronomical property prices.

In a paper submitted to the Kowloon City District Council on Tuesday, the city’s two major public housing providers said the government proposed to hold on to seven sites in the Kai Tak Development Area for building public housing, instead of selling them to private developers.

Building public housing on plots originally planned for land sales is one of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s measures to boost affordability in the world’s most expensive property market. Three of the seven sites were announced in Lam’s policy address in October, while the other four were announced in 2017.

In the district council paper, jointly submitted by the Housing Authority, the city’s largest public housing provider, and the Housing Society, the second largest, the seven sites could provide 12,570 affordable homes in total, capable of housing about 35,100 people.

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Two of the sites will be for the society and the rest for the authority.

Construction work is expected to begin between 2020 and 2022, and to be completed between 2024 and 2026.

“In response to society’s keen demand for public sector housing, the government has been identifying land suitable for developing [such] housing in different districts,” the housing bodies said in the paper.

The seven sites are close to two future MTR stations – Sung Wong Toi and Kai Tak – along the Sha Tin-Central Link. The rail link is expected to partially open by the end of this year, but the plan has been jeopardised by a series of scandals over shoddy construction work.

The district council will discuss the paper on Thursday.

Another of the government’s moves to address the housing crisis is to collaborate with non-governmental groups to provide transitional housing for those living in substandard homes while waiting for public rental housing.

This policy also saw progress on Tuesday, with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, an NGO, submitting a plan to the Sham Shui Po District Council about building its second transitional housing project.

The council plans to apply to lease a 36,000 sq ft site under the Lands Department for five years to build and operate 210 transitional flats. The site is at the junction of Yen Chow Street West and Tung Chau Street.

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As with the council’s first transitional housing project, also in Sham Shui Po, it will be built with prefabricated units.

Under the plan, the average living space per person will be no less than 75 sq ft, and every flat will have its own toilet and space for cooking.

The council expects tenants to move in from the second year of the five-year lease term.

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Tenants at the first project, on Nam Cheong Street, are expected to start moving in by the end of this year.

At a media gathering on Tuesday, Director of Lands Thomas Chan Chung-ching said the site targeted by the council had been used to temporarily store construction site materials and could be released in September.

He said the Lands Department had also identified other sites in urban areas with the potential for developing transitional housing. But he refused to disclose how many sites it had identified or where those sites were.