Housing committee gets down to work

Updated: 2012-10-16 06:47

By Joseph Li(HK Edition)

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Body meets for first time to study city's long-term housing needs

The Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee met on Monday for the first time to appraise the long-term housing needs of various quarters of the community in the coming decade and beyond.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who attended the early part of the meeting, expressed concern over Hong Kong's critical housing problem, and laid out his expectations of the committee's work.

The body will meet once every six weeks. It aims to submit an interim report by the middle of next year and present it for public consultation for three months. It will also touch on housing supply, but land supply is not within its terms of reference.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting that lasted more than three hours, Secretary for Transport and Housing, Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, who chairs the committee, said members spent most of the time discussing the terms of reference and the work direction.

In particular, the committee will explore the housing needs of various sectors of the society, including the elderly, young people, first-time homebuyers and those who are living in adverse housing conditions, and also to set priorities, Cheung said.

It will also project housing needs in terms of the number of housing units in the private and public sectors, and examine related land and planning policies.

"The discussions on housing needs will inevitably touch on home supply because they are the two sides of the coin. For example, we may as well spell out how many hundred thousand residential units (per year) are required to reflect our expectations regarding supply," he said.

However, the committee has no authority to access land supply issues.

Cheung explained that land supply is a market-sensitive question, and the government must handle the issue with extreme care. This would involve the town planning process and the policy committee chaired by the financial secretary.

Michael Choi, a member of both the Steering Committee and the Housing Authority, said members spoke out on issues they would like to discuss. Apart from housing for young people, he proposed ways of increasing plot ratios so as to increase housing supply.

Fellow committee member and former lawmaker, Fred Li Wah-ming, hoped to increase the transparency of the committee's work. For example, the papers should not necessarily be confidential so that the public can know what they are doing and what has been done, suggested Li.


(HK Edition 10/16/2012 page1)