Three Hong Kong factory sites will be redeveloped into 4,200 flats to bolster public housing supply

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Three factory estates in Hong Kong will be redeveloped to provide more than 4,000 new public flats over the next decade, the Housing Authority has announced.

The plan stems from Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s call in her 2019 policy address for the authority to explore redeveloping its industrial estates to increase public housing supply.

Four of the six estates studied were deemed technically suitable for housing, but the process would only launch for three of them because of a court challenge against the fourth site, which could host 600 flats, according to an authority statement issued on Monday.

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The three factory estates – Yip On in Kowloon Bay, Sui Fai in Fo Tan, and Wang Cheong in Cheung Sha Wan – are expected to be converted into residential areas providing 4,200 flats by 2031.

Hoi Tai and Chun Shing factory estates, in Kwai Chung and Tuen Mun respectively, were not considered feasible for housing development on the grounds of substantial noise, air quality and odour issues.

Hong Kong is the world’s least affordable housing market and the average waiting time for public housing has climbed to 5.8 years, a 22-year high.

Scott Leung Man-kwong, vice-chairman of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, called the move a “good starting point” and said the redevelopment of the three industrial sites was a better use of space in land-starved Hong Kong.

“The Housing Authority took the first step to redevelop its factory estates for affordable housing, which can set an example for owners of other industrial buildings and factories to do the same,” he said. “This is a new direction that the government can explore to boost land supply for housing.”

Although the scheme would not address short-term housing needs, Leung said that was understandable given that existing tenants would have to be moved on.

The Wang Cheong industrial site in Cheung Sha Wan is one of those deemed suitable for housing. Photo: May Tse
The Wang Cheong industrial site in Cheung Sha Wan is one of those deemed suitable for housing. Photo: May Tse

Francis Lam Ka-fai, chairman of the Institute of Surveyor’s planning and development division, also welcomed the move but said he hoped the authority could speed up the plans.

“The whole process, from the proposed study in 2019 until completion in 2031, will take more than 10 years. That’s just too long,” he said.

The authority said in the statement that it would proceed with the rezoning of the three sites for residential purposes.

The Yip On Factory Estate in Kowloon Bay. Photo: May Tse
The Yip On Factory Estate in Kowloon Bay. Photo: May Tse

Officials added the same process would be initiated for the estate in Kwai On in Kwai Chung after the resolution of a judicial review case involving its draft outline zoning plan, a document covering the land use and infrastructure implications of a particular planning scheme.

The authority said it would begin to clear tenants from the four factory estates and demolish the buildings while the rezoning of the sites was in progress to help shorten the project.

Affected tenants will be given an 18-month notice to vacate their premises, and will be paid the equivalent of 15 months’ rent in compensation.

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