Little chance of meeting new flat target, say experts

Government still to rezone many of the sites marked for sale for residential development

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 5:18am

The government has little chance of meeting its target of selling enough residential sites to yield 13,600 new flats this financial year, analysts say.

"The town planning process for many of the sites has not been completed yet, and it takes a long time to rezone the land. The chances of the government meeting its target of 13,600 flats are not high," said Alnwick Chan Chi-hing, executive director at the property consultancy Knight Frank.

The government announced in March that it had set a target of selling enough sites in the 12-month period starting in April to yield 13,600 new flats.

However, to date it has sold just seven sites, which together can be developed into only 2,400 flats.

Another 2,500 new homes can be developed on nine sites to be sold in the next three months, an announcement by the Secretary of Development, Paul Chan Mo-po, said yesterday.

But that will bring the total to just 4,900 new flats, or little more than a third of the government's target.

Chan said: "About 22 sites in the land sale programme must be rezoned. Five of the sites have been rezoned and two out of the five will be released for sale in the coming quarter.

"The town planning procedures on 10 sites have been started, but we need time to rezone the sites. There will be more plots released for sale in the second half of the fiscal year," he said.

While the government said yesterday that it would add six sites able to yield 1,500 new homes to its land sale programme for the current financial year, it removed three sites from the list and said they would be allocated to public rental housing flats instead.

Eddie Hui Chi-man, a professor at Polytechnic University's building and real estate department, said: "It's more like an exchange of sites, and as a result we will not see more private homes built. But it's still good that the overall supply of both public and private flats will increase."

Hui said the public would be disappointed if the government failed to meet its housing target again, but it was a difficult task, since many of the sites it proposed selling were not immediately available for release.

"If you look at the land list the government gave out at the beginning of the fiscal year, you will find that more than 20 sites were still in the planning stages. So it is questionable whether these sites will be ready for sale within this financial year," he said.

Shih Wing-ching, co-founder of Centaline Property Agency, questioned the government decision to re-allocate three sites from private residential use to public housing. "It is not a smart move," he said.

The transfer would reduce still further the supply of private housing, Shih said, in sharp contrast to the government's promise to provide 20,000 flats annually and at a time when there was a public outcry over the affordability of new homes.

"The government should address public concern on the issue by increasing the supply of private housing," he said.