A pilot scheme to relocate existing industrial operators into multistorey buildings to free up land in the northwestern New Territories for housing development is expected to face strong opposition. The idea was unveiled in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's third policy address last Wednesday as a way to increase land supply in the medium to long term to ease the city's housing shortage. "It is a big challenge for the government to look for area sufficient to accommodate the affected operators," said Lau Chun-kong, international director at JLL. In his address, Leung said that he expected to use about 190 hectares of a brownfield site in Hung Shui Kiu in the northwestern New Territories for housing projects. The site, now home to open storage, cargo and rural industrial workshops, is equivalent in size to almost four West Kowloon Cultural Districts. "The government is studying feasible measures, including accommodating some of the users in multistorey buildings and taking the 'brownfield sites' inside the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area as a pilot case," Leung said. Lau doubted if the government's earlier proposed 62 hectare logistics park would be big enough to resettle these industrial operators which require large areas of land to run their operations. He believes discussions with the affected operators, relocating them, and the lengthy approval process from the town planning board to convert the land use into residential purposes would take five to 10 years to complete. Tang Ka-leung, a Yuen Long district councillor, said these sites are not just providing storage spaces for containers, adding that he believes the area should gradually be transformed into a logistics and distribution centre owing to its proximity to southern China. "Some of the operators are involved in the use of heavy duty machines which is impossible to move into high-rise buildings," he said. These industrial operators are mainly focused in Ha Tseun, in Hung Shui Kui, and em- ploy about 2,000 people, he said. Tang acknowledged the government's desire to increase land for the building of public housing but it also needs to maintain the business environment for existing operators. Instead of moving into high-rise buildings, Tang said the government should set aside a site in Lau Fau Shan north of Yuen Long as an alternative to accommodate these industrial operators. "Their business will be forced to close down if there is no proper plan for relocation," he said.