Think tank urges Hong Kong government to co-develop land with developers

The Hong Kong government has been urged to co-develop land held by private developers to meet the city’s housing needs in the next three decades

Aerial view showing Hong Kong’s city density.

The Hong Kong government has been urged to co-develop land held by private developers to meet the city’s housing needs in the next three decades, reported South China Morning Post.

Think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, which was founded by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, estimate that the city would need over 9,000 hectares of land over the next 30 years to accommodate people affected by urban renewal projects as well as population growth.

The figure is based on the assumption of a 270 sq ft average living area per person for all new flats and a one to two ratio between housing and facilities, such as hospitals, commercial areas and public space.

“The government needs to adopt innovative plans to meet the massive demand for housing and solve social problems caused by high property prices,” said foundation senior researcher William Tsang Wai-him.

He revealed that the three major developers in Hong Kong – Sun Hung Kai Properties, Henderson Land Development and New World Development – had a combined land bank of about 1,000 hectares, most of which are agricultural land, within the New Territories.

Such land were left undeveloped by developers due to town planning restrictions, a need to negotiate premiums with the government and lack of infrastructure.

Tsang called on the government to offer incentives to developers, such as easing density restrictions and providing infrastructure, in exchange for developing a certain percentage of land for subsidised housing.

However, local land concern group Liber Research Community researcher Chan Kim-ching said the plan would mainly benefit private developers, who acquired the land at a very low price years ago.

“It’s more like helping private developers to release the agricultural land they’re hoarding,” said Chan. “There will be a huge suspicion of government-business collusion.”

Describing the estimated future demand of land as unrealistic, he noted that the government showed no intention of implementing a compulsory living area per person in the private sector while the current one for public housing stands at only 141 sq ft.

“[The estimation] is much inflated and unrealistic…It sounds more like a way to justify additional large infrastructure projects,” said Chan.

He added that the government could conduct compulsory acquisition of the land if they really wanted to develop it.

 

This article was edited by Denise Djong.