Think tank urges govt to dou­ble land-sup­ply tar­get

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By HE SHUSI in Hong Kong hes­husi@chi­nadai­

A lead­ing Hong Kong think tank es­ti­mates the city will need to de­velop more than 9,000 hectares of new land over the next three decades to meet peo­ple’s needs.

This is al­most dou­ble the 4,800 hectares gov­ern­ment pro­jec­tions on land de­mand, re­leased last year, sug­gested.

Our Hong Kong Foun­da­tion, in a re­port re­leased on Tues­day, ar­gued that the gov­ern­ment has failed to cal­cu­late Hong Kong’s real so­cial needs.

The foun­da­tion’s sug­ges­tions came a week ahead of a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on land op­tions for at least 1,200 hectares iden­ti­fied by the city’s land-sup­ply task force. The con­sul­ta­tion will be launched on April 26 and will last for five months.

Stephen Wong Yuen-shan, the foun­da­tion’s deputy ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and head of its Pub­lic Pol­icy In­sti­tute, said the gov­ern­ment’s re­cent “2030+” re­port, which laid out the city’s ter­ri­to­rial de­vel­op­ment strat­egy for the next 30 years, was “over-con­ser­va­tive” be­cause of Hong Kong’s se­vere land short­age.

He said the re­port had ne­glected the need to im­prove liv­ing space per capita and failed to in­crease the area al­lo­cated to sup­port fa­cil­i­ties.

The think tank used Sin­ga­pore’s sit­u­a­tion as a ma­jor ref­er­ence, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

To reach Sin­ga­pore’s liv­ing space per capita, 8,320 hectares of res­i­den­tial land will be needed — 60 per­cent more than the gov­ern­ment’s es­ti­mate of 4,800 hectares in the “Hong Kong 2030+” re­port, the foun­da­tion’s se­nior re­searcher Ryan Ip Man-ki noted.

With a pop­u­la­tion den­sity of 27,400 peo­ple per de­vel­oped square kilo­me­ter, Hong Kong is al­most three times more crowded than Sin­ga­pore.

Tak­ing into ac­count the area of sup­port fa­cil­i­ties needed to ease grow­ing pres­sure on pub­lic health­care and in­crease Hong Kong’s com­pet­i­tive­ness, the city needs 760 more hectares, Ip said. This will push the to­tal land de­mand for the next 30 years to 9,080 hectares — roughly three times the size of Sha Tin in the New Ter­ri­to­ries.

The gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal does not take sup­port fa­cil­i­ties into ac­count, Ip ar­gued. This in­cludes land for hos­pi­tals, ho­tels, of­fice build­ings, con­ven­tion and ex­hi­bi­tion fa­cil­i­ties,

re­cy­cling and con­struc­tion-re­lated fa­cil­i­ties.

To meet land de­mand, the foun­da­tion has sug­gested two so­lu­tions: restart­ing largescale reclamation out­side Vic­to­ria Har­bour and ex­ploit­ing 64 hectares on gov­ern­men­towned but un­de­vel­oped hills in Sai Kung in the New Ter­ri­to­ries.

The foun­da­tion es­ti­mated more than 3,500 hectares of land could be cre­ated by reclamation in five sites they iden­ti­fied in the long run. These are mainly lo­cated in the Is­lands District, such as the South Che­ung Chau ar­ti­fi­cial is­land and west Lamma Is­land.

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