Planning takes priority for any housing project
The recently completed report of the governmentappointed Task Force on Land Supply has proposed nothing new other than showing various degrees of public support for land creation options that had been floated before to test public response.
Whether the report can achieve the aim of settling the controversy surrounding some of the options and allow the government to proceed with the job is open to question. For instance, there will still be strong resistance from environmental groups on the massive reclamation to create a man-made island that could greatly disturb the marine ecology system in the vicinity.
The compromised solution to developing a part of the golf course, for example, is not going to please anyone. Yes, the majority of respondents to the task force’s survey agreed to the development of brown fields in the New Territories. To do so, the government will run into the huge problem of relocating the “dirty industries”, including auto repair, waste disposal and container storage, that need vast space far away from densely populated areas to operate.
However, there’s one point raised by task force chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai not in the report, but at a one-on-one interview on television. He lamented that any major housing development would raise concerns among people living in the neighborhood about the strain on transportation and other facilities.
These are, of course, reasonable concerns that must be addressed, Wong said, even if the proposed project has the support of the majority of the public. His recommendation seems straight forward. If followed, it would mean a complete rethinking of the government’s approach to housing development.
The traditional way is to build the houses first and then build the facilities needed to meet the demand of the growing population in that particular neighborhood. During the lag time, everybody living there suffers.
Wong’s recommendation is to make a reasonably accurate assessment of the needs and build the facilities to meet those needs before building the houses. It’s called planning.
If the government can do that, perhaps, it won’t need any task force to impose the majority will on neighborhood groups.