Plan­ning takes pri­or­ity for any hous­ing project

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS HK -

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.


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