Government's commitment to housing will remain: CE

Updated: 2017-01-19 07:35

By Carrie Qiu in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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The government will remain determined to tackle Hong Kong's long-lasting housing problem while maintaining a balance between development and conservation, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in his last Policy Address on Wednesday.

To achieve both goals, Leung floated the idea of using the peripheries of country parks with low ecological value for public housing development as well as places to accommodate vulnerable groups such as care homes for the elderly. In the meantime, the government will increase high-value country parks areas, Leung said.

The move will release land zones for residential use. "The housing problem in Hong Kong boils down to land use, which is not a technical issue, but a conceptual one," Leung said. He called on Hong Kong people to re-examine the city's land use planning in a serious, scientific and objective manner.

According to government statistics, only 7 percent of land in Hong Kong is zoned for housing purposes.

Although the government has adopted a multi-pronged approach to release land supply, including launching new development areas and new town extension projects, reclamation and redevelopment of brownfields, there will still be an approximately 25 percent (1,200 hectares) of land shortages in 2046, according to the Policy Address.

"Expediting and increasing supply is the ultimate solution to various housing-related issues," said Leung. He called for long-term efforts by future administrations.

Government's commitment to housing will remain: CE

Real estate investor and founder of Centaline Property Agency Shih Wing-ching agreed with the government's vision. He said he had suggested a similar idea a long time ago.

But Shih predicted there will be resistance from environmental groups, "but we need to balance the needs of environment and housing, and make compromises".

According to the Policy Address, the government will provide an estimated 94,500 units of public housing for the five-year period from 2016-17.

Meanwhile, the housing supply target for the next decade stands at 460,000 units, including 200,000 public rental housing units and 80,000 subsidized sale flats.

In terms of private housing, the government projected 94,000 units of first-hand residential supply for the coming three to four years.

The series of short-, medium- and long-term land supply initiatives can provide over 600,000 housing units in total, according to the Policy Address.

 Government's commitment to housing will remain: CE

A view of properties in Tai Koo Shing, a popular community of the city's middle class. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying called for long-term efforts to tackle the city's long-lasting housing problem by future administrations. Edmond Tang / China Daily

(HK Edition 01/19/2017 page2)