Govt ad­mits to land short­age in pub­lic hous­ing plan

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By WILLA WU in Hong Kong willa@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The Hong Kong gov­ern­ment ad­mit­ted it has en­coun­tered a short­age of land for the con­struc­tion of 44,000 pub­lic hous­ing units, part of its 10-year sup­ply tar­get set two years ago, due to dif­fi­cul­ties in ac­quir­ing land.

This is the sec­ond time the gov­ern­ment scaled down its pub­lic hous­ing sup­ply tar­get af­ter it was set at 280,000 in Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun­y­ing’s sec­ond Pol­icy Ad­dress in 2014. Last year, the gov­ern­ment changed the goal to 255,000 units due to in­suf­fi­cient land sup­ply and un­co­op­er­a­tive lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

Brief­ing the me­dia with the an­nual progress in ex­e­cut­ing the city’s long-term hous­ing strat­egy, Sec­re­tary for Trans­port and Hous­ing An­thony Che­ung Bing-le­ung said the gov­ern­ment could only build 236,000 pub­lic hous­ing units by 2027 — pro­vided all the pro­ce­dures were done on sched­ule.

The re­vi­sion, Che­ung ex­plained, was mainly due to the in­creas­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in find­ing suit­able land for build­ing pub­lic hous­ing. He added that the process had be­come more lengthy and com­pli­cated as it in­volved mul­ti­ple pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions, ne­go­ti­a­tions with dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers and le­gal dis­putes.

But the gov­ern­ment was de­ter­mined to give the high­est pri­or­ity to the pub­lic’s wishes when deal­ing with these con­flicts, Che­ung said.

He also said the gov­ern­ment would stick to last year’s to­tal tar­get of pro­vid­ing 460,000 units in the next decade. If com­pleted on sched­ule, it will meet the city’s pro­jected de­mand of 457,000 units by 2027.

Che­ung said the gap was alarm­ing as de­mand for pub­lic hous­ing had been con­stantly in­creas­ing in the past four years. Ac­cord­ing to Hous­ing Au­thor­ity statis­tics, the num­ber of pub­lic hous­ing ap­pli­cants has gone up 45.6 per­cent since 2012.

Che­ung em­pha­sized that the key to solv­ing the hous­ing sup­ply is­sue is still find­ing suf­fi­cient land sup­ply. He, there­fore, called for dif­fer­ent sec­tors of so­ci­ety to sup­port the gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts in iden­ti­fy­ing land.

To ad­dress the scarcity in the short term, the gov­ern­ment will com­bat ten­ancy abuses in pub­lic hous­ing es­tates, such as tight­en­ing the pol­icy for welloff ten­ants. And it will sta­bi­lize the pri­vate hous­ing mar­ket by sup­press­ing spec­u­la­tive and in­vest­ment de­mand, ac­cord­ing to Che­ung.

The re­port noted that the gov­ern­ment would con­tinue to adopt multi-pronged meth­ods to ex­pand pub­lic hous­ing sup­ply. These in­clude in­creas­ing de­vel­op­ment in­ten­sity by 20 per­cent in less pop­u­lated ar­eas, build­ing on brown­field sites, recla­ma­tions out­side the Vic­to­ria Har­bour, as well as rock cav­erns and un­der­ground de­vel­op­ments.

Mean­while, the projects in­clud­ing the Kwu Tung North, Fan­ling North and Hung Shui Kiu New De­vel­op­ment Ar­eas, the Tung Chung New Town Ex­ten­sion, as well as the Yuen Long South de­vel­op­ment will pro­vide land for res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments in the lat­ter part of the 10-year pe­riod, Che­ung said.

The re­port noted that in the five-year pe­riod from 2016-17 to 2020-21, the to­tal pub­lic hous­ing sup­ply will be about 945,000.

The pro­jec­tion of pri­vate res­i­den­tial sup­ply stood at about 93,000 units in the com­ing three to four years — up from the gov­ern­ment’s 2012 fore­cast of 65,000.

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