Hong Kong’s most expensive new town project will adopt an unprecedented development model where major road and rail networks will be provided as the first residents move in.
Unlike previous new town projects, where major transport links are considered only when a certain number of people have moved into the communities, Lantau Tomorrow Vision would have such infrastructure around the same time as the first housing blocks were completed.
While supporters said the HK$273 billion transport project would provide convenience to the first residents moving into the new metropolis, some worried it would give developers an opportunity to monopolise rights to operate tunnels and grab prime sites closest to stations.
Former director of planning Ling Kar-kan said such infrastructure should be built as a priority during the construction of the project, as much of the future metropolis would be on artificial islands in the middle of the sea.
Chan Kim-ching, founder of land concern group Liber Research Community expressed concerns that future cross-harbour tunnels in the planned transport network could be operated by private corporations, giving them an opportunity to monopolise fees.
He added that prime sites on top or around rail stations would be sold to developers to fetch high profits, while Hong Kong’s problem of unaffordable housing would not be solved.
To provide more affordable housing, environmental group Greenpeace said the city should use its existing land resources such as brownfield sites – farmland that has been damaged by small and polluting businesses such as e-waste recycling workshops, and mechanics.
In a study, the group found the government only needed to pay a quarter of the public money used to fill in the sea around Kau Yi Chau in the Lantau project to buy enough brownfield sites to develop a similar number of public flats.
“The burning priority is to provide more public housing for those living in a really undesirable environment and who cannot afford better homes,” said Greenpeace campaigner Andy Chu Kong.
He added that the project is partly to create land for the government to sell to private developers to make money, while those who are suffering have to wait for more than a decade.
Edited by Jamie Lam
Do you agree that developing brownfield sites is a better way of boosting land supply? Explain your answer.
There are criticisms that the government is so caught up in playing catch-up in the global “smart city” rush that it has neglected the city’s pressing issues. To what extent do you agree with this?